|The Key To Making Restitution Redemptive
Some people argue that restitution is not a valid concept in the New Testament age. I disagree. Nothing in the New Testament explicitly repeals the concept (see Matt. 5:17-20). In fact, restitution is implicitly endorsed by Jesus in Luke 19:1-10. Moreover, restitution is a sign of taking responsibility for one’s actions, and nothing in the Bible indicates that God wants believers to be less responsible in this age than they were before the advent of Christ.
Furthermore, restitution is not inconsistent with forgiveness. Believers in Old Testament times were called to forgive others’ offenses, yet they were entitled to receive restitution (Num. 5:5-8). Forgiving another person’s wrong means you will not dwell on it, use it against that person, talk to others about it, or let it stand between you. But being forgiven does not necessarily release the offender from responsibility to repair the damage. Certainly, an injured party may exercise mercy, and in some cases it is good to waive the right to restitution (Matt. 18:22-27). But in many cases, making restitution is beneficial even for the offender. Doing so demonstrates remorse, sincerity, and a new attitude, which can help speed reconciliation (Luke 19:8-9). At the same time, it serves to ingrain lessons that will help the offender avoid similar wrongdoing in the future (see Ps. 119:67,71; Prov. 19:19)
Therefore, if you have damaged another person’s property or physically harmed someone, God expects you to do all you can to make that person whole. If he or she decides to release you from your responsibility, you should be deeply grateful for such mercy. On the other hand, if you have been harmed or your property has been damaged, you should prayerfully consider how badly you need to be made whole and whether making restitution would benefit or unduly burden the offender. As you pray about it, keep in mind that blending mercy with justice is a powerful way to restore peace and glorify God.
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 277-278
Food for Thought
The word restitution comes from the Latin “re” (again) and “statuere” (to set up). It literally means “to restore or rebuild”. Often when we think of restitution–either making it to another or receiving it for ourselves–we forget that one purpose of restitution is to restore or rebuild the relationship itself. If restitution serves only to restore or rebuild what the injured party has lost, it falls far short of the New Testament concept.
If you’re involved in determining restitution in a particular situation, don’t neglect the restoration and rebuilding of the relationship that has been damaged. If you’ve been wronged by another and are considering what restitution would be appropriate for you to receive in return, prayerfully consider restitution that accounts for rebuilding the relationship in question.
Restitution is redemptive when it is coupled with forgiveness. We are called to breathe grace and redemption to everyone involved.
Resources To Help You Respond to Conflict Biblically
We’re pleased to offer three new CCEF resources to help as you seek to respond to conflict biblically. Caught Off Guard by William Smith bridges the chasm between heart and head; Running Scared by Edward T. Welch investigates the roots of fear in the human soul and the ramifications of living in the grips of anxiety, worry, and dread; and A Quest For More by Paul David Tripp traverses the deepest recesses of the human heart and compassionately invites fellow Christian travelers to journey with him into God’s bigger kingdom. You can order any of these books through our online bookstore or by calling our Resource line at 800-711-7118.
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