Restitution and Forgiveness

Are there things for which you need reconciliation with people or God? We have relationships with others and a relationship with God, and these two different relationships require different approaches to bring us back into fellowship…

5 The Lord said to Moses, 6 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty 7 and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. 8 But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer. 9 All the sacred contributions the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him. 10 Sacred things belong to their owners, but what they give to the priest will belong to the priest.’”
Numbers 5:5-10

When a person wronged another, God’s law was for the wrongdoer to confess, make restitution, and add one fifth to the value of restitution to the other person.  There were also instructions for cases in which there was no one to make restitution to (which then went through the priest).

Underlying these requirements is the reality that when I wrong you, I am also unfaithful to God, and I place myself out of fellowship with God, requiring atonement to be made for my sin.  When we sin against others, we sin against Christ (1Corinthians 8:12).

Restitution, if possible, is not payment for our sins before God.  Sometimes people get this backwards.  Sometimes people believe that if they have sought forgiveness from God, that should resolve the issue with the wronged person.  Other people believe that when you make something right with the wronged person, that your sin against God is also dealt with.

We have relationships with others and a relationship with God.  These two different relationships require different approaches to bring us back into fellowship. 

The lesson for relationships with our brothers and sisters is to be more generous that our sin requires.  In the Mosaic law stated above, 20% was to be added to the cost of restitution to our brother or sister.  That’s sound advice if we are trying to restore a relationship.  Generosity goes a long way…

In the case of sinning against God, in Moses’ day sacrifices were required.  In our case, the sacrifice has been made.  Jesus is the sacrifice for our sins, and our process for reconciliation with God is to confess our sins before him and accept the sacrifice of Jesus. This applies to our first sin and our last, and every one in between.

Jesus is the answer to our reconciliation with God when we break fellowship with him.

Now, are there things for which you need reconciliation?  Time to act today!


Marc Kinna


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