“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: when a man or woman wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the LORD, that person is guilty and must confess the sin [he/she] committed. [He/she] must make full restitution for [his/her] wrong, add one fifth to it, and give it all to the person [he/she] has wronged”. Numbers 5:5-7
Right and wrong; we do not talk much about right and wrong these days. It all seems so relevant. I am part of Generation X, and our generation has difficulty distinguishing between right and wrong. It gets very confusing. What seems wrong to one person may seem right to another.
In the Book of Numbers, Moses gives us a qualifier. He identifies sin as “being unfaithful to God”. Sin is a violation of a known law of God. And God gives us specific instructions when we sin against another person. Our instructions include confessing our sin to God and the other person. We must apologize to them and we shall make restitution.
Restitution is the idea of repairing or mending the situation. It is a physical and tangible apology. In the Western world, we equate apologies with words. However, in the ancient cultures of Bible days, they equated apologies with tangible goods. If you stole from someone, you were to replace what you stole plus one fifth. If you broke something, you were to repair it and add to it.
Yet, sometimes there is no way to make restitution with tangible goods. When someone destroys our reputation through slander, is there really enough money to make it right? If someone’s sin causes the death of a loved one, can their tangible goods resurrect that life?
These gifts of restitution were merely salve to soothe a wounded spirit. God knew we needed something more than tangible goods. There is sin that leaves us broken beyond the restitution money has to offer. There is sin that we have committed that has left others broken beyond the restitution our simple words can give. It is sin that needed divine forgiveness. It is brokenness that needed divine healing.
Today, is there someone you need to offer confession and restitution to? Your apology may not turn back the clock, but it may start the healing process. Your gift may not undo the damage, but it will be evidence of a repentant heart. Today is the day to begin the healing process. Call on the Lord for forgiveness. Call on the Lord for strength to forgive.
Keep fighting the good fight of faith!