God is calling for restitution for sinning against your neighbor. Don’t just say sorry; make it right by giving back and then some.
When I was reading this passage I had to check out my bible helps. I wasn’t sure what God was referring to here. I didn’t understand the “breaking faith with the Lord” sin. It took the cross reference to get me there and the expert’s discussion to bring it home. Then I needed to ask the Holy Spirit to confirm it for me. So I’m going to go with what I learned and let Him lead from there.
First of all, the cross reference I have in my bible takes me back to Leviticus 6:2-3. We already looked into this section earlier. It deals with defrauding your neighbor by either robbing him of something and lying about it or swearing falsely in court regarding someone. BIG no no’s listed specifically in the Ten Commandments. Leviticus 6 and Numbers 5:5-10 tell the people how to deal with this sin after it is committed.
I’m going to bet the farm that anyone committing this kind of sin KNOWS it is wrong when they do it and probably even before they put the feet to their actions. I bet they even know it is wrong when they are still in the planning stages. But knowing that it is wrong and “realizing your guilt” are two different acts.
Guilt is a gift that many refuse to open. Too much of it is not healthy but the absence of it is ruin for all. I’m not talking about guilt assigned by another through some process such as a trial but the soul tearing knowing that you have done wrong and harmed someone in the process. Without that kind of guilt there is no reconciliation or restitution.
Personal recognition of your own guilt compels you to change the outcome. It drives you to do something to make it right. God called His people to do something about their offenses towards one another. They were commanded to make restitution instead of just say “I’m sorry.” The injured party deserved to know the perpetrator of their pain truly understood their role and wanted to make amends. So this restitution had to be above and beyond the damage that was inflicted. The cure had to be painful for the one who caused the problem in the first place.
Thinking about that last statement, I have a feeling that the “pain” involved in restitution was also freeing. It was the sincerest “I’m sorry” the person could make. The person’s heart really had to be in the apology in order for them to make this offer and sacrifice. That change only comes from God.
It amazes me how God worked through the people in the days of the Old Testament to bring about their repentance. They didn’t have access to the Holy Spirit that we do since Jesus’ work on the cross. God had to work through others around them and through subtle and not so subtle hints. He still works that way with those who don’t know Him but with His children He uses His Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin.
The way we can tell the difference between guilt heaped on us by Satan and the conviction of the Holy Spirit is the end direction the force is driving us. Are we being coaxed to hide the sin better so on one finds out or to come clean and make amends? Satan NEVER wants us to make amends. He wants to burry us deeper in the process. The Holy Spirit wants to wash us clean and restore our relationships, including the one with the Father. And we will never get to that point unless we are willing to open the gift of guilt and use it to motivate us to repentance.
In our reading the people are told that if there isn’t a way to make things right with the brother or his family, at least make it right with God. Set things back in order in one way or another. God honors those efforts.
I’m going to climb out on a limb here and say that I don’t believe God allows us to just say “I’m sorry” to Him and ignore the hurt we caused to our brother or sister if there is ANY way we can fix it. I believe He calls us to address the hurt we have done to one another even though we are not under the law. This would still be covered under Jesus’ command of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Thinking this over I’m going to have to consider my actions in life and ask if I have restitutions I need to make. I KNOW God can and does forgive me when I come to Him but I now feel there is not full resolution without restitution; or at the least repentance to the one hurt. No more closet confessions with prayer penance. Restitution with God includes confession and restitution to those I have injured.
Father God, search my heart and show me where I need to go to my brother/sister. Show me my sins that still have them in bondage and me too. Help me heal the hurts instead of inflicting more pain when I address my past sins. Show me which ones are beyond my reach and help me know how to address these with You. Please Holy Spirit lead me through this task I believe You have brought before me. Heal my heart and help me pass that healing onto others. I choose to open those “gifts” that have been stacked in the corner too long. And Satan, this is NOT an invitation to you to heap on unearned or unproductive guilt!