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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 6 : Be Reconciled | Day 38

Make Restitution!

Restoring a relationship with those whom we have offended is not easy. It requires that we set aside all the reasons we have been using to justify our offensive words, attitudes, or actions and seriously consider the offense from their perspectives. When tangible loss has been suffered, it is vital that we make full restitution in order to gain a clear conscience.

The cost of restitution is incidental compared to the cost of shipwrecking our faith with the lack of a clear conscience.

Paul sent Timothy into spiritual warfare with only two weapons: his faith and a clear conscience. He warned Timothy that those who fail to maintain a clear conscience will make shipwreck of their faith. (See I Timothy 1:19.) Paul himself affirmed the importance of a clear conscience when he stated, "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence [sic] toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16). Purposing to make restitution demonstrates an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and a willingness to do whatever is possible to restore the relationship.

When a businessman returned to a former employer to ask forgiveness for taking some funds out of the cash register, he brought with him the amount of money he had taken, plus interest. This was an especially difficult sacrifice to make, because the businessman was out of a job. The former employer was amazed by his action and accepted the check. Can you imagine the businessman's surprise when this former employer then said, "I don't know what you are doing now, but we are looking for an honest man to fill an important position in our company, and you have just qualified yourself as one by what you have done"!

We should not always expect such a good response when we make restitution, however. After a certain woman heard about the importance of making restitution, she went to authorities and confessed that she had killed a person. To make restitution, she had to serve a prison term. While she was in prison, she experienced God's grace and had a rich ministry to fellow prisoners.

Most offenses involve wrongdoing by both parties, but the one who is more spiritual will initiate reconciliation.

Sometimes making restitution will not be possible because we don't have the resources or because the damage is beyond what money can make right. A number of years ago, the courts assigned a young man to our juvenile rehabilitation program. He was to stay with us until restitution for his crime had been carried out. Since he had no money, we helped him learn a carpentry trade and paid him for his work. Today he is married, has two children, a good job, and is very thankful for the year and a half that he spent making restitution.

Let's ask the Lord to bring to our remembrance people whom we have damaged and discern what restitution would be appropriate.

“... First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard