Matthew 5:23-24; 6:12; 18:21 Acts 24:16 I Timothy 1:5, 19
1. RESTITUTION MUST ALWAYS BE A BLESSING: never a curse or burden. What God commands you to do will always end in a blessing. It should not be attempted until you are certain it will bless. Timing is so important. Don’t rush recklessly. We are to edify each other.
2. RESTITUTION RESULTS IN LOVE: It should cause more love for teach other than you had before. Full joy comes when restitution is proper and complete.
3. RESTITUTION IS A MATTER OF OBEDIENCE: Don’t sin by disobedience and expect God’s blessing. Restitution evidences to man that a transaction has already been made with God. Be committed to making restitution when needed, in God’s timing.
4. RESTITUTION SHOULD WAIT FOR GOD TO PREPARE THE WAY: He provides the circumstances to bring restitution about. In some situations there is no doubt or question about immediate action. In others, God needs to take the initiative. Begin by resting the case with God. Pray, “Lord, I am personally willing to make restitution and will allow you to take the initiative in preparing the way.” When He does, then you need to act accordingly. It is just as important that the Lord prepares the other party to receive you as it is you being willing to go to him. As you are prayerfully tuned to the Lord, He will make it clear. Sometimes the reception may not be to your liking, but when you move in God’s way, it will be the way He planned to bring about His results in His timing.
5. RESTITUTION PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY TO MINISTER: Often the other party is in need of a “bridge” on which to cross from his self-centeredness into positive obedience to God. Your example and making the move in his direction may free him to honestly face his own need in a way he has desired but has not been able to fulfill. In some cases merely your moving toward him “preaches” a powerful and convicting sermon to his soul, though that is not your motivation in going.
6. RESTITUTION IS ALWAYS UNILATERAL: always one-sided. Never look for the other person to take the blame or even share in the blame. Restitution is specifically a matter of settling my wrongness. It deals only with my blame, my wrongness, in a given matter and must never be related to the possibility that someone else was implicated in my wrong. It is dealing with the attitudes of my own heart that even allow the situation to remain.
By understanding my sole responsibility to make restitution, I may move straight to the issue, avoiding the snare of thinking that I must first establish a certain kind of delicate treaty with the other party. God’s work in another like is his business, though Satan will tempt me to share God’s responsibility. Therefore, leave the other party with god. Do your part. Be assured that if God asks you to do it, He will not only create the circumstances, but He will also provide the resources needed for you to carry it out.
7. RESTITUTION IS NEVER “IF”: It is never predicated by the statement, “If I have offended you,” or “If I have hurt you.” The “please forgive me if I have been an offense” type restitution will never settle anything or produce God’s results. If restitution deals with my blame, then it must be that I have offended, hurt, or allowed a bitterness to remain. It then should be, “Please forgive me. I am sorry and ask your forgiveness.”
8. RESTITUTION NEVER GUARANTEES OR PRECLUDES A “RIGHT” RESPONSED: At the point you ask for forgiveness, you are not responsible or guaranteed a positive “right” response. Commit that to God.
9. RESTITUTION MUST ALWAYS BE AS BROAD AS THE OFFENSE BUT NEED NEVER BE ANY BROADER: Deal with God alone about private sins of the mind and body, These should never be included in restitution. When the other party knows nothing about it, deal only with God. Never say, “I have had some bad thoughts about you” or “I resented you” or “I have had lustful thoughts toward you and I want you to forgive me.” Go to the other party only when they clearly know about the situation because they were involved in it. If you have shared these thoughts or feelings with a third party, go to them and let them know you have made this situation right with God. Go no further under any circumstances. Some have created thoughts in the other party’s mind that were not there previously and created a further problem, resulting in continued bitterness and resentment. Private lustful thoughts expressed to the other party can generate the same thoughts in that person’s mind and precipitate a sinful immoral relationship. Be very careful.
Though private sins, some people feel strongly that they must say something to the person even though it is not necessary and he know nothing about it. If you are strongly compelled that this is necessary, always be positive, speak in love, edify, and make tangible expressions that confirm your love. Never say, “I am sorry for resenting you, please forgive me.” Say something like this, “I just want you to know that God has put so much love in my heart for you that I have never loved you more than I do right now. There have been times I should have loved you more, but I thank God for giving me so much love for you now.” Follow with tangible acts that confirm your love for him, build him up, and bless his life in Christ.
Personal sins affecting you and another person must be dealt with at that level alone.
Public sins affecting a large group or an entire church need to be made right on whatever level of people it affects. Always be as broad as the offense but not any broader!
10. RESTITUTION IS FOR THE GLORY OF GOD: In giving public testimony, restitution brings glory to God only when it exalts what Christ has done rather than magnifying the situation itself. In the light of everything else discussed, personal testimony can be given. It then is not a matter of “hanging out dirty linen in public”, but rather an expression of the praise to God’s glory in deliverance. Others then rejoice by your testimony in that God has performed a “miracle” rather than in your elaboration all the details. Only when the glory goes to Jesus will people be blessed and the church edified.
IMPORTANCT FINAL WORDS:
1. On matters of personal morality (immorality), be sure to consult your pastor or spiritual advisor before acting in andy direction.
2. Never pressure a person to respond. If he is unwilling to forgive, ask him to contact you when he is ready.
3. If the sin occurred before salvation, deal with everything the Holy Spirit reveals.
4. Aside from matters of personal morality (immorality), the general rule is to deal person-to-person. If impossible, telephone. Letters, emails, etc. should be the last resort.
5. If you have any questions at all about the what, when, why, how, or even if restitution should be made, consult your pastor or spiritual advisor. Don’t with when it is too late you had gotten the right advice. You cannot always recover the damage.
This has been copied from the flier put out in 1990 by the Canadian Revival Fellowship.