• TeMah LoraLee

Is Restitution Biblical? (Y1.T2.D32)


Unsplash; "Sincerely Media"

 

Restitution is biblical.


Leviticus 6:2–5 states:


If anyone sins, and commits a trespass against Yahweh, and deals falsely with his neighbor in a matter of deposit, or of bargain, or of robbery, or has oppressed his neighbor, or has found that which was lost, and lied about it, and swearing to a lie—in any of these things that a man sins in his actions— then it shall be, if he has sinned, and is guilty, he shall restore that which he took by robbery, or the thing which he has gotten by oppression, or the deposit which was committed to him, or the lost thing which he found, or any thing about which he has sworn falsely: he shall restore it in full, and shall add a fifth part more to it. He shall return it to him to whom it belongs in the day of his being found guilty.


This isn't really surprising given the influence God's laws have always had on creating civil societies.


Consider what the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF)—which seeks to "inspire lifelong civic engagement through interactive programs and resources for teachers and youth because our democracy depends on informed participation by all"—included in a student exercise titled "The Hebrews and the Foundation of Western Law":


The Jewish law that developed influenced Roman law, English law, and our own Declaration of Independence and Constitution.


It's unclear if the chief tax collector in today's passages knew the Levitical law when he proclaimed "Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much" (Luke 19:8).


What is clear is his motivation to repay came from a repentant heart.


So while restoration is biblical, remember God cares more about our attitude than our actions. And he provided us laws to protect us—not only from others but from our own selfishness.


God Recognizes Sincere Obedience


Matthew 20:29, Mark 10:46a, Luke 18:35a


30a Behold, two blind men sitting by the road, (Matthew 20:30a)


35b a certain blind man sat by the road, begging. (Luke 18:35b)


46b the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. (Mark 10:46b)


Matthew 20:30b–32a, Mark 10:47–49a, Luke 18:36–40a


49b They called the blind man, saying to him, “Cheer up! Get up. He is calling you!”


50 He, casting away his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. (Mark 10:49b–50)


Matthew 20:32b–33, Mark 10:51, Luke 18:40b–41


34 Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; (Matthew 20:34a)

Mark 10:52a, Luke 18:42

Matthew 20:34b, Mark 10:52b, Luke 18:43a


43b glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, praised God. (Luke 18:43a)


1 He entered and was passing through Jericho. 2 There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, and couldn’t because of the crowd, because he was short. 4 He ran on ahead, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 He hurried, came down, and received him joyfully. 7 When they saw it, they all murmured, saying, “He has gone in to lodge with a man who is a sinner.”


8 Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.” (Luke 19:1–8)


1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “If anyone sins, and commits a trespass against Yahweh, and deals falsely with his neighbor in a matter of deposit, or of bargain, or of robbery, or has oppressed his neighbor, 3 or has found that which was lost, and lied about it, and swearing to a lie—in any of these things that a man sins in his actions— 4 then it shall be, if he has sinned, and is guilty, he shall restore that which he took by robbery, or the thing which he has gotten by oppression, or the deposit which was committed to him, or the lost thing which he found, 5 or any thing about which he has sworn falsely: he shall restore it in full, and shall add a fifth part more to it. He shall return it to him to whom it belongs in the day of his being found guilty. 6 He shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh: a ram without defect from the flock, according to your estimation, for a trespass offering, to the priest. 7 The priest shall make atonement for him before Yahweh, and he will be forgiven concerning whatever he does to become guilty.” (Leviticus 6:1–7)


9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”


11 As they heard these things, he went on and told a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that God’s Kingdom would be revealed immediately. (Luke 19:9–11)

Meditation Moment


Dear God,


You have taught me that he who conceals his sins doesn’t prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28:13). Only You can reveal my hidden mistakes and forgive me for them (Psalm 19:12). If I have done anything that requires restitution, bring it to my mind now. Today I want to hear Your voice, and not harden my heart as those in rebellion (Hebrews 3:15).

Amen.


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