If an animal is grazing in a field or vineyard and the owner lets it stray into someone else’s field to graze, then the animal’s owner must pay compensation from the best of his own grain or grapes. Exodus 22:5 NLT
Relate: As a teacher and a parent, I am acutely aware of the human drive to pass off responsibility for failings. I’ve heard students tell me why they could not possibly be responsible for completing the work assigned because of x,y, and z. I’ve had parents refuse to believe their child’s behavior could be anything other than perfect. I’ve heard my own children deny that the penciled-in artwork on the wall belonged to any of them. No one likes to admit failings, let alone take the time and effort to repair or make amends for damages.
This section of Exodus lays out a series of specific actions that must be taken for specific mistakes, including what one must do if their animal strays into someone else’s field for a snack. The enumeration of errors and responsibilities for mistakes here makes the need for reparations more than clear.
This is part of why the work of the cross is so mind-boggling. The natural consequences of sin are death – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Just as the owner was responsible for the damages done by the stray animal, the responsibility to make reparations was taken on by Christ. He owned our failings, and he made the necessary amends.
React: We can have such freedom if we are willing to admit our failings and embrace the forgiveness that is accessible to us. God did not send his Son to die for us so we could claim we are perfect. Nor did he sacrifice so we could continually pay for the mistakes of our past by holding tightly to guilt and shame.
We are to love God, and love our neighbors. When we fail, we need to do what we can to demonstrate the love of Christ through our actions. This includes admitting our failings and doing our best to make things right. However, we can also own the freedom of knowing God has given us a clean slate. We do not need to walk through our lives weighed down by our failings. Christ has pleaded our cause and righted our wrongs. Own your mistakes, then own your freedom.
I thank you for your great grace. I am in awe that you would pay the consequences for my actions so that I can live in freedom. Help me to live a life demonstrating your love to others, even when I fall down. Thank you for your love so great.