The Power of Restitution: How To Prove You Are Sorry

“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23,24 NKJV

God Almighty is a just God, and He shows kindness to everyone. So to reflect God’s character, all narrow road followers of Jesus must learn to make things right when they offend others. For example, sorry is not good enough when you sin against someone through slander and rob them of their reputation. Sorry is not good enough when you ruin someone’s property, even if it was an accident. If you took something give back more than you took. Honestly show sorrow for you evil deed.

For example, in Exodus 22:5-6 (NKJV) we read, “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard. If fire breaks out and catches in thorns, so that stacked grain, standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.”God says SORRY is not good enough!

You must come to understand that reconciliation is to to settle or resolve the hurt or loss that you created through your actions. When you are hurt by someone, is “sorry” enough for you? The path to reconciliation is through restitution. You must do what is necessary to make things right when you wrong and hurt others. What you broke, misplaced, or took must be repaired or replaced to their satisfaction. If you cannot, you must make arrangements with the person you offended.

Ralph Sutura says this about restitution.

Restitution must always be a blessing—never a curse or burden. What God commands you to do will always end in blessing. It should not be attempted until you are certain it will “bless.” Timing is so important. DON’T RUSH IN RECKLESSLY. We are to EDIFY each other.

Restitution results in love. It should cause more love for each other than you had before. FULL JOY comes when restitution is proper and complete.

Restitution is a matter of obedience. Don’t sin by disobedience and expect God’s blessing.

Restitution evidences to man that a transaction has already been made with God. BE COMMITTED to making restitution when needed, in GOD’S TIMING.

Restitution should wait for God to prepare the way. He provides the circumstances to bring restitution about. In some situations there is NO DOUBT or question about immediate action. In others, GOD needs to take the initiative. Begin by RESTING the case with God. Pray, “Lord, I am personally willing to make restitution and will ALLOW THEE to take the initiative in preparing the way.” When He does, ACT accordingly. It is just as important that the Lord prepares the other party to receive you as it is your being willing to go to him. As you are prayerfully “tuned” to Him, God will make it clear. Sometimes the reception may not be to YOUR LIKING, but when you move in God’s way, it will be the way HE PLANNED to bring about HIS RESULTS IN HIS TIMING.

Restitution provides an opportunity to minister. Often the other party is in need of a “bridge” on which to cross from his self-centeredness into positive obedience to God. Your example and making the move in his direction may free him to honestly face his own need in a way he has desired but has not been able to fulfill. In some cases merely your moving toward him “preaches” a powerful and convicting sermon to his soul, though THAT IS NOT YOUR MOTIVATION in going.

Restitution is always unilateral—always one-sided. Never look for the other person to take the blame or even share in the blame. Restitution is specifically a matter of settling MY WRONGNESS. It deals only with MY BLAME, MY WRONGNESS, in a given matter and MUST NEVER be related to the possibility that someone else was implicated in my wrong. It is dealing with the attitudes of my own heart that even allow the situation to remain.

By understanding MY SOLE RESPONSIBILITY to make restitution, I may move straight to the issue, avoiding the snare of thinking that I must first establish a certain kind of delicate “treaty” with the other party. God’s work in another life is HIS BUSINESS, though Satan will tempt me to “share” God’s responsibility. Therefore, leave the other party with God. DO YOUR PART. Be assured that if God asks you to do it, He will not only create the circumstances, but He will also PROVIDE THE RESOURCES NEEDED for you to carry it out.

Restitution is never “if.” It is never predicated by the statement, “IF I have offended you” or “IF I have hurt you.” The “Please forgive me IF I have been and offense” type of restitution WILL NEVER settle anything or produce God’s results. If restitution deals with MY blame, then it must be that I HAVE offended, hurt, or allowed a bitterness to remain. It then should be “Please forgive me. I am sorry and ask your forgiveness.”

Restitution never guarantees or precludes a “right” response. At the point you ask forgiveness, you are not responsible or guaranteed a positive, “right” response. Commit that to God.

Restitution must always be as broad as the offense but need never be any broader than the offense. Deal with GOD ALONE about PRIVATE SINS of the mind and body. These should never be included in restitution. When the other party KNOWS NOTHING about it, DEAL ONLY WITH GOD. Never say, “I have some BAD THOUGHTS about you” or “I RESENTED YOU” or “I have had LUSTFUL THOUGHTS toward you and I want you to forgive me.” Go to the other party ONLY WHEN he clearly knows about the situation. If you have shared these thoughts or feelings with a third party, go to him and let him know you have made this right with. GO NO FURTHER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Some have “created” a further problem, resulting in continued bitterness and resentment. Private lustful thoughts expressed to the other party can generate these same thoughts in his mind and precipitate a sinful immoral relationship. BE VERY CAREFUL.

Though PRIVATE SINS, some feel strongly that they “must say something to the person EVEN THOUGH it is not necessary and he knows nothing about it. If you are strongly compelled that this is necessary, always BE POSITIVE, SPEAK IN LOVE, EDIFY, and make TANGIBLE EXPRESSIONS that confirm your love. Never say, “I am sorry for RESENTING you, please forgive me.” Say something like this: “I just want you to know that God has put so much love in my heart for you that I have never loved you more than right now. There have been times I SHOULD HAVE loved you more, but I thank God for giving me so much love for you now.” Follow with tangible acts that confirm your love for him, build him up and bless his life in Christ.

PERSONAL SINS affecting you and another person must be dealt with at that level alone. PUBLIC SINS affecting a large group or an entire church need to be made right on whatever level of people it affects. Always be AS BROAD AS THE OFFENSE but not any broader!

Restitution is for the glory of God. In giving public testimony, restitution brings glory to God ONLY WHEN it exalts what Christ has done rather than MAGNIFYING the situation itself. In the light of everything else discussed, personal testimony can be given. It then is not a matter of “hanging out dirty linen in public,” but rather an expression of praise to God’s glory in deliverance. Others than rejoice by your testimony in that God has performed a MIRACLE rather than in your elaborating all the details. ONLY WHEN the glory goes to Jesus will people be blessed and the church edified.

IMPORTANT FINAL WORDS
> On matters of PERSONAL MORALITY (immorality), BE SURE to consult your pastor or spiritual advisor BEFORE acting in any direction.
> Never pressure a person to respond. If he is unwilling to forgive, ask him to contact you when he is ready.
> If the sin occurred BEFORE conversion, deal with everything the HOLY SPIRIT REVEALS.
> Aside from matters of PERSONAL MORALITY (immorality), the general rule is to deal person-to-person. If possible, telephone. Letters should be a “last resort.”
> If you have ANY QUESTION at all about the what, when, how OR EVEN IF restitution should be made, CONSULT YOUR PASTOR or spiritual advisor. Don’t wish when it is TOO LATE you had gotten the right advice. You cannot always recover the damage.

“Speak to the children of Israel: ‘When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against the LORD, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged.” Numbers 5:6,7

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