Making Reparation


I'm curious as to what the Bible teaches about making reparations for bad decisions we may have made?


This is an interesting question. Under the Law of Moses we will have a different answer than that found for a Christian (because the Law was done away with in Christ - Galatians 3). We'll use the example of theft as a pattern of all things that need reparation.

Under the Law

Exodus 22:1 - If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.

This would usually mean the person would have to work a long time to afford to purchase the replacements.

Exodus 22:2 - If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. (KJV)

Exodus 22:2 - If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no blood guilt for him. (NET)

This is similar to the Castle laws that some states in the USA have, and the death of the thief is considered self-defense.

Exodus 22:7-9 - If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man's house; if the thief be found, let him pay double. If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour's goods. For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.

Even if someone is looking after another's stuff, the person in charge of it is responsible, and if the thief is not found, is entirely responsible for replacing the item(s) stolen twice over (ie. a ring is replaced by two rings).

For further information on these aspects of the Law, see Leviticus 6.

Under Christ

A Christian is expected to live a life worthy of Christ. He is our example and we are to develop a character and a mind to match his (Philippians 2:5; Romans 15:5; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 4:1).

Ephesians 4:28 - Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

If a person who has become a Christian used to steal, he should work hard so that he can give to others that are in need so that they do not fall into the trap of stealing. Reparation is up to one's own conscience, keeping in mind that a Christian is to act like Jesus would.

Above all, a Christian needs to ask for forgiveness, from God (1 John 1:9) and from the one he offended (Matthew 5:23-24).

Written by Matthew Smith