February 4 – Today’s Readings – Exodus 22-24 and Psalms 34
My meditation today has to do with all the “rules” that governed the Israelites as a new nation under God.
Some of these make perfect sense today and some seem archaic and meaningless. One general moral standard that repeatedly stands out for me is that of RESTITUTION. We don’t see much restitution as part of our society’s justice system, but I believe this principle was meant to be part of God’s sanctifying work in our lives.
When I was 16, I met the Lord and one of the first things He began to talk to me about was restitution. I had no idea that “restitution” was in the Bible but by the Spirit, I knew that God was interested in dealing with me from the inside out. Several months before I met the Lord, I had stolen a ceramic “needle” used to play old-fashioned vinyl records (before “8 tracks” or “cassettes” or “CDs” or “iTunes o on-line streaming”). As a new believer, I wanted to “clean up” the music I was listening to so I saved up and purchased some worship music for my high school dorm room. When I began to play that album with my stolen needle however, the Holy Spirit told me very clearly that I had to make this right. The next day, I detached the needle, put it in my pocket and proceeded downtown on my bicycle to face the storeowner. I had prayed about this the night before and realized that the owner could phone the police and have me charged or insist that I pay him a large sum of money in exchange for not having me charged. This was before the Canadian “young offenders act” and I was terrified because I was placing myself completely in the hands of this unknown person that I was about to confess to.
I remember the sequence of events as if it was yesterday. I can even remember the layout of the store and the sales counter where I met the owner. I simply took the needle out of my pocket placed it on the counter and told the man how I had stolen it and how Jesus had told me to bring it back and make things right. There was a long pause as the owner tried to comprehend what I was saying. Then he told me that he was glad I had told him everything and that there was no need for any compensation. What this store owner did was very gracious and forgiving but what God accomplished in my young heart that day was even more amazing – I publicly admitted that I had harmed someone and was willing to make things right – even if it cost me dearly.
When I walked out of that store, I understood the meaning of restitution and realized I had learned a lesson in how the Kingdom of God functions. If we are being led by the Holy Spirit then we are accountable to a “higher law”, one which is far superior to any law of the land. A Christian author once wrote; “Love God and do what you please”. When I first heard this statement I thought it was heresy but the more I considered it, the more I realized that if you love God you will be operating on a higher plane, “the law of the Spirit”.
1. Recall a “restitution” story from your life experience.
2. How would our present day justice system be changed if we included more “restitution” in the sentencing?