In fighting for national freedom peace is bought with blood…usually. Freedom from guilt, however, is purchased by making restitution.
Guilt. Is it a feeling or a state of being? It is both according to dictionary.com. . What is it to God?
Strong’s number 816 – ‘āšam – To be guilty; to be in a state of liable for wrongdoing with an implication that one will suffer or be punished for the guilt; to be suffering; to declare guilty
We can learn about personal freedom by looking at the guilt offering designed by God to facilitate reconciliation between people and between God and His people (Leviticus 4,5,6). Here are a few things I learned from my study of guilt. I hope you find them helpful.
- When a person sins unintentionally (by accident), that person is still guilty (“legally” responsible). God’s laws and penalties have not appeared and vanished on the basis of any individual’s intentions. His laws remain impartially active despite the people involved or their situations.
- Guilt is a type of suffering. One party suffers the offense. The other suffers the punishment of the wrong until things are made right.
- Guilt is part of the cleansing equation. There is a concrete way to be free of guilt… a process to go through. Leviticus 5 Realize wrongdoing > Accept the guilt > Make restitution > Plead their case before God > Be forgiven > Enter into restored relationship
- I am regarded as guilty when I am cognizant of my wrongdoing ( aware, made aware, acknowledge)
- I am rendered guilty immediately whenever I commit a wrong of any kind
- Who sets you free from guilt? You do; wanting to be free is an active choice. God does: without His involvement, reconciliation is not achieved completely
- When making things right, don’t aim for replacement, aim for a fifth above and beyond.
Numbers 5:6-8Amplified Bible (AMP)
6 “Say to the Israelites, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind [against other people], thus breaking faith with the Lord, and that person is guilty, 7 then he shall confess the sin which he has committed, and he shall make restitution for his wrong in full, and add a fifth to it, and give it to [the person] whom he has wronged. 8 But if the man [who was wronged] has no redeemer (relative) to whom the restitution may be made, it is to be given to the Lord for the priest, besides the ram of atonement with which atonement is made for the offender.
- You know, it is interesting that the problem with causing hurt to others is actually breaking faith with the LORD. It is that broken faith Godward that necessitates realignment action on the part of the wrongdoer, not whatever emotional gymnastics or feelings they experience. All restitution solutions are matter-of-fact events. They effect the heart but are not dependent on it.
Spatially challenged, kinetically expressive individual that I am, “Wanna get away?” moments increase in proportion to social interaction. It can be embarrassingly problematic.
There I was talking to a friend at a party one second and the next second there goes the hostess’s very cool, somewhat expensive candle holder. It toppled laterally. The thin ceramic severed into three parts across the dark wood of her console table instead of shattering into a zillion pieces on the floor. That last bit was fortuitous.
I was mortified. Being the avid reader of God’s take on things that I am I knew restitution must take place but how to do that escaped me at the moment.
“I’m SO sorry….” came out of my mouth.
“Oh don’t worry about it. I have grand kids.” She smiled. It was like saying what I did did not matter. But it did. It mattered to me and it mattered to God.
With all the sad face emotions I could hopefully project in order to convey my sincere apology, take two commenced.
She cradled my face in her hands and looking into my eyes spoke firmly, “ Christine, let it go.”
I couldn’t. My state of being was stuck in a red light/ green light situation on a long red – a do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200 spiritual type of jail and I desperately wanted to be free of it. I was stuck in a place of liability without my get-out-of-jail-free card that could only come from the LORD.
Until God released me I would not be released. If I had the power to vanish… to teleport home I would have but God had other plans.
Next up was our devotional speaker for the day. She told us about a Japanese art form that mends broken pottery to make the point about how beautiful God’s mending of her broken life had been and still is. She had been re-purposed for the display of God’s splendor and craftsmanship with a glorious golden glue that reminds her what a treasure she is.
As I was leaving the hostess came over to give me a parting hug. “Isn’t it interesting that the speaker talked about broken pottery today? It makes me think again about the candle holder breaking.”
Her hands flew off of me so fast. Immediately she turned away to talk to someone else.
Okie-dokie, I thought. I knew at that moment that things had to be made right. It was the right choice for a servant of the Most High and an essential part in the equation of freedom from that unfortunate moment for both of us.
It was a passage we’d both studied recently and now had the opportunity to experience first hand. Early the next week I made it my mission to find that special item. I drove across the bridge to the big city and struck out at the first five stores. Five. Nobody had the exact color, height, or shape. Tired and disappointed I complained to God. Then I called my daughter for her input. She offered a couple suggestions and she asked her hubby what he’d recommend. He suggested that I definitely go to one more particular store. I did.
The solution wasn’t there either but God was. As I was browsing – more like getting lost in aisles and aisles of stuff – two managers and their trainee were talking as they introduced her to stock placements. One manager laughs and teasingly says, “…We need to get this girl some bumpers. No seriously. She’s always bumping into stuff.”
LORD! You wanted me to hear that!! I’m not the only one who suffers from loosely connected steering.
I should have stopped right there, raised my hand and testified “That’s me too! I’m here because I need to stop bumping into stuff!! Bumpers would be great. Do you have any force-field types that fit the bill?”
This time listening to someone else’s conversation was kind of encouraging. Striking out wherever I turned was extremely discouraging. I tried, God. Thanks for the encouragement but it doesn’t look like restitution is possible today and today is all I have.
With the LORD’s direction, help with resources and two stores later the solution was in hand. Neither grand kids nor clumsy adults could break it. It was the right shape and height. The candle colors paired well with their holders and would make a stunning display. One broken item would become a beautiful set of six so the numbers thing was working out. I think these will do. Thanks God. You have helped me to do what is right. You have made a way to break free from my wrongful accident.
Things matter. They don’t matter because they are things, they matter because things affect our hearts. Making restitution heals. Ignoring a friend’s heart divides and separates. Such disregard for those whom God has created is dishonoring to their Maker and a blight to Christian testimony. So God gives us a way to deal with our possessions in a way that honors people and pleases God.
Here’s a couple other examples:
- One time back in college Steve loaned out his car. The driver came back having put in a completely new wind shield because while the vehicle was in his care the previous one was cracked. That was my first exposure to proper restitution. It brought about a happy all-is-right bounce to my step.
- Dad left when I was 5. When I was grown he said, “I’m sorry for our “unfamily” and then later when I had an opportunity to visit him, it was important to him that I be included in his home and he set aside a room just for me near his instead of making me sleep alone in the trailer across the parking lot. He was being a dad to me and I treasured the brief time we shared together.
God designed a way to be free from guilt. Sacrifice. It is a two part equation; Our part and God’s part.
We make it right. He forgives us. The wronged person forgives us. We forgive ourselves. Relationship can finally be enjoyed uninhibited.
That really is the goal isn’t it? … Being reconciled, realigned, to God and to people in such a way that uninhibited relationship is genuinely experienced?
Happy Memorial Day Weekend! What memorials of mended relationships do you carry with you?