Why do we make restitution?
Let us first find out what restitution means in the Bible. It is an act of restoring to the rightful owner something that has been taken away, stolen, lost, or surrendered.
“The LORD said to Moses: “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbour about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do– when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering. And as a penalty he must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, his guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any of these things he did that made him guilty.”
It is an act of restoring to the rightful owner something that has been taken away, stolen, lost, or surrendered.
“He must make restitution for what he has failed to do in regard to the holy things, add a fifth of the value to that and give it all to the priest, who will make atonement for him with the ram as a guilt offering, and he will be forgiven.”
When someone took or stole something that was not his/hers, full restitution of the property had to be made and an added 20 percent (one-fifth of its value) had to be paid as compensation.
“If the stolen animal is found alive in his possession–whether ox or donkey or sheep–he must pay back double.”
If a man or woman stole an ox or donkey or sheep, and the animal was recovered alive, the thief had to make restitution of double the value stolen.
“If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.”
If the thief had killed or sold the animal, however, he had to make a fourfold (for a sheep) or a fivefold (for an ox) restitution.
Is this notion also in the New Testament?
Absolutely. In the New Testament, the word restitution is not used, but the idea is expressed. In fact, here we are going to see the real reason why restitution is encouraged in the Scriptures.
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a `sinner.'”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Why is restitution encouraged? It is a public manifestation that you have given your heart to our Lord and have accepted Him publicly in your heart. You love your Lord. It shows through your actions. Have you shown publicly that you have accepted Jesus in your heart? It is not too late. What a powerful witness you will be, if you do so. “Come into my heart, oh Lord Jesus!”
Some believe Restitution was done away with in the New Testament. However, in Luke 19 we are told about the tax collector named Zacchaeus.
Verse 8 – 9
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham, for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
To make Restitution to someone we have done an injustice to, is to gain their forgiveness and regain their trust in us.
Here is a story I once read somewhere that helped me understand this. Say you had a next door neighbour who came asking to borrow your lawn mower.
You loan it to him, he says “Thanks,” and off he goes to mow. He brings it back to you after a few days, with a broken blade and explains that he ran over a rock. You look at the mower and sure enough, one of the blades is broken clean off. Your neighbour sighs then says, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to run over that rock. I just didn’t see it.” Then he leaves you with your broken lawn mower. What if he were to ask you to borrow your lawn mower again? Would you feel real good about loaning it to him? I wouldn’t.
But what if the same neighbour had borrowed your lawn mower, accidentally broke the same blade, brought it back and explained that he ran over the same rock.
Before you can even look at the mower, he goes on to say, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to run over that rock. I just didn’t see it. I replaced the blade with a new one, and went ahead and replaced your leaf catcher while I was at it. Looked like that old catcher was about to stop catching soon.” He tells you “thanks again” and leaves you with more than what you had in that mower when you loaned it to him. What if he were to ask you to borrow your lawn mower again? Would you even hesitate to let him? I wouldn’t.
We make restitution (give back MORE than what we took) in order to be truly forgiven and trusted again. It puts both people in good and right standing with each other. It’s like what our Lord does for us continually. He gives to us more, MUCH more than what our sin could ever take from Him….Our sin needed the Sacrificial Lamb and He died for us. But He ROSE again, and gave us ETERNAL Life! He gave us His love, even when we didn’t love Him.
Your sister eternally,
All that we are and all that we ever hope to be belongs to God. John 3:16 tells us that God loved us so much that he gave His only begotten son so that we might have eternal life. We are forever in His debt because of this unconditional Love that God gave to us. He allowed His son, who knew no sin to come to die for us. Jesus was the perfect, unblemished sacrifice that took on the sins of the world so that we might live eternally with Him with His father, God. We make restitution because of our obedience to His word. If we are Christians, then we to must give back to Him who gave all that He had to give to us. How much do I love Him?
I love Him with all that is in me. Love covers everything. If we say we love and have not charity, we become as a sounding brass or a tinkling symbol. (I Corinthians 13) We do it because we love to please God. God inhabits the praises of His people. When we (Psalm 100) a joyful noise to the Lord, we are making restitution to Him for it is in this that we offer thanks giving to Him for all that He has done for us. We do it because of our personal relationship that we have with God’s son, who thought so much of us as a sinful generation–one that would have been lost, that He stepped forward and asked His Father’s permission to come to earth and to die for us.
Why? The answer is endless, no one could love us like Jesus, not mother, father, sister, or brother. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. When sin thought it had left a crimson stain on me, Jesus’ blood washed me as white as snow. He took all of my sins and cast them in a sea of forgetfulness so that I would not be reminded by Him over and over again of what I was. I am now His, and no man can pluck me out of HIs hand. I thank God that I am a Saved Sinner by my Faith in the Grace that God has granted to me. Thank God for Grace and Thank God for Faith, for I know that without it, it is impossible to see God.
Alvertis T. Jackson
There is a time and place for everything, a time to be born, a time to die, a time to sow, a time to reap, and “maybe” a time to restore, a time to take away.
Simply just giving back what is not yours to keep, we do this not only because its the right thing to do but, God commanded it and to please our Lord Jesus Christ!
Luke 19:8, Ex.22:1, Lev. 5:16, Num. 5:5
Blessings in Christ Jesus
Lisa Lisa Adams
I honestly don’t think we can ever make restitution. Jesus gave his life for us. I mean, God sent his only son to die for me. i know that I could never do that. But, he died for me, the least I can do is live for him.
Old Testament laws provided for restitution to be made in the case of theft, in which case the guilty party was to repay double the amount stolen.
Exodus 22:4-AV If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.
Exodus 22:7-AV If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.
Exodus 22:9-AV For all manner of trespass, [whether it be] for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, [or] for any manner of lost thing, which [another] challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; [and] whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbor.
Restitution is also provided for in our civil laws. Usually an amount of money deemed to be the value of the amount or goods taken is ordered by the judge to be restored. I think the old practice of repaying double has been dropped but sometimes the settlement includes an amount for ‘penal damages’.
So simply put, we make restitution because the law requires us to. If we get caught. But what about the times when the thief is not caught? Well of course in that case the wronged person gets nothing and the thief gets away with it. Or does he/she?
In this life perhaps. However, we can establish from the scriptures that a thief will in no way enter into the kingdom of Heaven, while that sin is held against him.
Zechariah 5:4-AV I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.
1Peter 4:15-AV But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
Exodus 20:15-AV Thou shalt not steal.
Leviticus 19:11-AV Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.
Mark 10:19-AV Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
Romans 13:9-AV For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
So if one is a thief and subsequently comes to salvation and seeks the forgiveness of God for his misdeeds, is voluntary restitution expected of him?
Ezekiel 33:15-AV [If] the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Matthew 5:23-AV Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Matthew 5:24-AV Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
It has always been a general principle that if one was not able to make restitution, then one had to suffer the penalty of the law as a consequence. A period of servitude or slavery was imposed in OT times. Exodus 22:3-AV If the sun be risen upon him, [there shall be] blood [shed] for him; [for] he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
No doubt we are all familiar with the story of the thief on the cross next to Jesus. That man will be in Heaven because Jesus forgave him. He did not make restitution to his victims but he did suffer the penalty of the law. Likewise, in our society it is not always possible to make restitution, either because we no longer have the means to do so. In such cases it is customary for the judge to order a period of detention.
We can’t get away from it. If we are caught then the law will require us to make restitution and/or serve a penalty under the law. If we don’t get caught, God will eventually hold it against us on the day of judgement, unless we repent and seek His forgiveness. If we repent, He expects us to make restitution voluntarily by going to the person we have wronged and making it good with him/her. If we were in that position and could not pay off the debt, He would expect us to give ourselves up to the police and take the penalty of the law.
One important principle remains. If one is the person who has been wronged and someone is making restitution to us, what should be our attitude?
Luke 17:4-AV And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
Luke 17:3-AV Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
Mark 11:26-AV But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Let us not forget that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and we have a responsibility not only to restore that which we have a need to but to forgive those who trespass against us.
I feel like we have to make restitution because we learn from doing this. And we owe it to God. We can’t expect him to forgive us if we don’t make restitution for our sins.