If you have sinned in any of these ways, you are guilty. You must give back whatever you stole, or the money you took by extortion, or the security deposit, or the lost property you found, or anything obtained by swearing falsely. You must make restitution by paying the full price plus an additional twenty percent to the person you have harmed. On the same day you must present a guilt offering. (Leviticus 6:4-5)
Relate: “Everybody is the hero of their own story.”
Have you ever heard a particular turn of phrase that made you think, “Yah… yah! That’s right!” You hear an idea or phrase and then start using that concept yourself whenever the chance comes up. Soon, it even becomes so much a part of you that it shapes how you think and what you do? The phrase above became one of those “aha” moments for me. I read it a couple years back and immediately claimed it as my own. It is just so true. Each one of us thinks we’re doing pretty good. We’re not as bad as… you know, that guy. I’m sure even Hitler had built a castle of rationalizations in his mind to explain why he was such a good guy and doing the right thing. Stalin, Charles Manson, even those two evil cats fighting outside my window as I type… take your evil figure and I can pretty much guarantee that if you were able to crawl inside their head, they thought they were doing the right thing or at the very least, the wrong thing but for the right reasons. We all would like to think we’re really not all that bad. What makes this lie worse is the fact that we live in a world saturated with false priests and prophets like Oprah who make millions pandering to our delusions.
React: Paul writes to the Corinthian church, “My conscience is clear but that does not make me innocent.” Our mental world has a tendency to rationalize even wrong actions behind right motives and intentions. The question is not, “What are my motives and intentions?” My motives can be great, but that only means that I am headed to hell on a well paved road. If I have realized that I have done wrong I can apologize all I want. The apology does not suddenly make it right no matter what we tell our young children. Restitution is a three step process: pay back, pay interest, pay God. This is what is required by God’s law every time I sin. Every. Single. Time. This is the only way we can balance the scales.
Unfortunately, it can’t be done. Nobody is able to do that every time. I don’t care if you’ve got the mind of Billy Graham, the heart of Mother Theresa, and the self discipline of Gandhi. You can’t do it. I can’t do it. I might be the hero in my own story but that is only because I’m awfully good at rationalization. I’ve even fooled myself. You have too. In the true story, in God’s story there is only one hero. His name is Jesus. He has given back what we’ve stolen, paid it with interest, and offered Himself as a sacrifice to God.
Please be the hero in my story. If I am a Christian, a reflection of You, then help me to live it. Don’t let me be a bundle of mistakes tied together with good intentions. Help me to live like You live. Help me to love like You love. Help me to leave the kingdom of my comfort to get messy in this world. Help me to be mindful to make restitution when I’ve done wrong, but also to seek to heal the hurts of wrongs done by others as well. Help me to not just balance the scales. Help me to tip them in Your favor.