Posts Tagged 'Making Restitution'

Making Amends

JESUS SPEAKING

    “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5: 23-24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    No one can have an intimate relationship with God in a vacuum. Human beings exist within complex social structures; communities comprised of family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even complete strangers.  Our relationship with others is a reflection of our relationship with God.  When we sin against our neighbor, we also sin against the Lord.  If we lie, slander, and despise another person, we have lied, slandered, and hated our own creator.  In the first century, many devout Jewish families traveled long distances to reach the temple in Jerusalem, where they would sacrifice an animal to atone for their sins. Having received forgiveness, they were restored to a right relationship with God.  Similarly, Jesus has taught us that we are to approach those we have harmed, and ask for their forgiveness; making restitution whenever possible. In so doing we will draw closer to the Lord. Even today, this commandment, known as ‘making amends,’ remains an essential Christian doctrine.

    When I came to California many years ago, I began working a 12-step program; a system designed to help me overcome a terrible drug addiction.  The creators of the first six steps were Christians; a gathering of believers known as the Oxford Group.  As a result, the steps were heavily influenced by the teachings found in the book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians, verse 13.  After becoming a Christian, I discovered that Christ’s command concerning amends likely inspired the founders to create the 8th and 9th steps.  The eighth step reads, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”  The ninth step reads, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”  From 2005 until today, I’ve continued making amends to those I’ve harmed.  I’ve made restitution and paid off every delinquent debt; I’ve also asked for forgiveness from those who were affected by my sins.  With every apology I’ve grown closer to the Lord.

    Today, in order to move forward with God, you might consider delving into your past; making a thorough examination of your previous mistakes.  If you’ve stolen from anyone, pay them back; if you’ve lied, and your lies have caused hardship, return to them and speak the truth.  If you have mistreated others and created resentments, you must humble yourself and request forgiveness. We’ve all sinned; but what we do with those sins will determine whether we grow closer to the Lord or remain at a distance.  The choice is ours to make.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, bring to our remembrance the names of those we have harmed; may we approach them and make restitution.  Give us the courage, the strength, and the humility to ask for forgiveness; that we might be reconciled to those who resent us.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!


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