by David J. Stewart
"Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." —Matthew 5:23-24
We are all sinful human beings capable of unspeakable acts. We all experience times of immaturity and foolishness in our lives. American author Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) said, “Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.” Unfortunately, some people greatly exceed the limit. Oh, how foolish and unreasonable we sinners can be at times. Hopefully, we will mature as we grow older.
Sadly, some people never grow up. They think the world centers around them. They think they are the only ones having any problems. They're just like little spoiled babies throwing a tantrum because they can't have their way. They are reckless and don't care who they hurt.
Everyone has problems, but those problems don't give us a right to hurt others. If we do hurt others, then we are OBLIGATED by God to make RECONCILIATION and RESTITUTION with our victims. We should attempt to right our wrongs if possible. In some situations it may be better to leave the matter in the Lord's hands for judgment day. But, be forearmed that if we don't take care of the matter, then God will (Romans 12:19). God gives us a chance to make matters right outside of court... 1st Corinthians 11:31, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
Reconciled: Defined from Strong's Greek Concordance, from dia - dia and allassw - allasso; to change thoroughly, i.e. (mentally) to conciliate:—reconcile.
Reconciliation begins with repentance on our part, i.e., a "change" of mind. This is when we realize the error of our way and desire to make things right. This change of mind will lead us to make re-conciliation.
God says that we must “re-conciliate” the matter with the one whom we have wronged.
Conciliate means to:
1. Cause to be more favorably inclined; gain the good will of
2. Come to terms
3. Make compatible with
So “re-conciliation” means to return to a state of conciliation (RE-conciliate). “Conciliation” is when we honor our agreements with other people and they are in agreement with us. Conciliation is when no one can call us a crook, liar, or thief. If we defraud someone(s), then we are commanded by God to restore everything to a condition of conciliation. We need to come to terms with the person(s) we hurt. We need to make things right once again. When we hurt someone in any way, there is no conciliation. The only way we can ever reconcile (re-conciliate) a matter is by making RESTITUTION. This is God's method for us to come to terms with someone whom we have wronged. All of the civil laws given to God's people in the Bible were based upon RESTITUTION.
1. A sum of money paid in compensation for loss or injury
2. The act of restoring something to its original state
3. Getting something back again
While in Jesus' presence, Zacchaeus was convicted about the people he had hurt in the past and wanted to make things right with God. Zacchaeus knew what he needed to do. He needed to make RESTITUTION.
"And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." —Luke 19:8
Have you hurt someone? Have you reneged on your part of an business agreement? Have you caused pain and loss for others? Then you are obligated by God to reconcile the matter (i.e., “to restore” as Zacchaeus did). For minor offenses, an apology may be all that is required. However, in situations where money or loss is involved, full restitution must be made. If you have done wrong, then you need to make reconciliation through restitution.
The Bible teaches that we are to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Matthew 7:12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
It wouldn't have been enough for Zacchaeus to simply apologize to his victims. His victims lost money, they were cheated and suffered a financial loss. It doesn't matter how wealthy or poor they were, Zacchaeus robbed them! Zacchaeus pleased the Lord only by making restitution. Also noticed that Zacchaeus returned FOURFOLD the amount of money which he cost his victims. In today's cut-throat world, such restitution is almost unheard of anymore. Very few people are willing to make restitution, let along return more than they took (i.e., punitive damages). Restitution is a Biblical teaching and practice.
Justice Means Balancing the Scales
Justice is often symbolized by a weighing scale. When someone hurts another person, the scale is out of balance. The only way for the scale to be restored to balance is for the offender to make full restitution. Justice is a balancing of the scales. Proverb 11:1 declares, "A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight." We don't see much justice in the world today.
Does God expect us to forgive someone(s) who has no intent on making restitution? Yes, of course; however, this in no way relieves them of responsibility and accountability for their actions. We certainly ought not trust them at that point. We must not hate them, but we have every right to demand restitution. Just because we forgive someone does not alleviate them of the judgment facing them. This is hard for some people to understand. Forgiveness and restitution are two separate events. We can forgive a person while still demanding justice. Life is too short to live with a burden of hatred. We must learn to forgive others, even if they are cold-hearted and unrepentant.
Jesus taught in Matthew 18:22 to forgive not 7 times a day; but 70 times 7 times a day (that's 490 times). I'd say that means unlimited forgiveness to those who genuinely want it. Wouldn't you say so? How can forgive 490 times in one day This truth does not give anyone God's permission to sin (Romans 3:31), and we all are obligated by God to love the Lord and obey Him as John 14:15 and 15:14 teach. Obedience is not an option. Disobedient believers will face the terror of the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:11), because they will not be accepted of Him (2nd Corinthians 5:9) and it will not go agreeable for them at their judgment.
Matthew 12:36, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Jesus said to lend, giving to each who ask of you, hoping to receive not again. Obviously the Lord didn't mean give your food money and rent payment away so you'd end up on the street homeless. Don't leave commonsense at the cover of the Bible. God is a very practical God if you understand the Scriptures.
Jesus said to “sell that ye have” and give alms (help to the poor). How many of us have ever sold our possessions to give to the poor? Most people have never really sacrificed. Most people have never given God anything more than spare time and pocket change. The Bible says that pure religion is to help the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and yet remain unspotted from the sinful world (James 1:27). Most big charities today pay out 6-digit figures to their CEO's. That's not what the Lord was talking about. Beware of fat-cat charities!!! God has entrusted us as stewards of His money that He has given to us. Don't be a tithing fool. Make sure that you are supporting a legitimate ministry that uplifts the King James Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nearly all charities today are secular and accomplish nothing for Christ. The gospel is not preached. No one gets saved. Christ is not honored and the Bible is forgotten. This includes 501c3 religious groups too.
You should NEVER lend out money that you need to pay your prior financial obligations, support your family, or pay your bills. You're a fool if you do. The government's not relocating churches to India and China, or Mexico. They're relocating American jobs to foreign soil; yet your pastor wants you to give, give, give. With what? Your nice job went to China? Your pastor wants you to work 3 jobs to support him, but he's only working one job. Don't be a fool. If you can give, great; but increasingly a lot of people simply cannot without giving away food money. God doesn't tell us to financial support preachers! God wants us to give to the poor, and to support the preaching of the gospel and the work of the Church. I wouldn't give a dime to anyone who's not preaching the gospel.
Living At Peace With Others
It is important to God that we strive to maintain peace at all times, whether it be at home, in our neighborhood, or our nation. No one should want to go to war; but war is the way to maintain peace, if necessary. Romans 12:18-21 teach for us as believers to allow God to make good on His PROMISE to RECOMPENSE our enemies evil for evil. This is what God has promised to each and every believer. It is a matter of faith. If we genuinely believe that God is going to punish our enemies, then we can "let it go" and put it into God's hands for another time and place. "Let go, let God!"
God is telling us to live at peaceably, IF POSSIBLE, with all men. Of course, this won't always be possible, because of the sinful pride, arrogance, stubbornness, and wickedness of humanity. Some people are just jerks, sad to say...
Romans 12:18-21, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
What a wonderful set of Scriptures. God is telling us NOT to strike back, nor to get even by rendering evil for evil. God does not want anyone taking the law into their own hands to hurt somebody. There are many truths to consider when studying these Bible verses. Justice is equalizing out the scales, bringing things back into balance and harmony, or as they say, zeroing-out-the-scale. God wants us to bless those who curse, and to do good to those who do us personal harm. If we don't, then the only other option is to render evil for evil and then we're no better than our heathen enemies.
Regarding law, the Bible teaches an eye-for-an-eye, and a tooth-for-a-tooth. That's balancing the scale. I use this scale scenario a lot when I ask myself, have I wronged anybody? Is the scale balanced? Did they lose something on my behalf? Is there an inequality? If so, I'll go out of my way to balance that scale, because I fear God (Romans 3:18). Sometimes there's no way that I can balance the scale, and I must place the matter into God's hands to judge the matter in eternity. This is why Sarah said to Hagar; and likewise David said to Saul... “The Lord judge between me and thee.”
When there is unresolved conflict and reconciliation is out of reach, impossible; then we are to pray, let it go, and cast our burdens upon the Lord and leave them there (Philippians 4:6-7; 1st Peter 5:7). What else can we do? That's not to say that we should just go our merry way if we have wronged someone; it just means that sometimes there's nothing we can do and have to wait upon the Lord and trust His mercy and judgment to deal with the matter on Judgment Day.
If you have wronged anyone, try to make it right. Go to them and work out an arrangement to pay them back if you owe them money. If you hurt them, apologize and ask what it would take to make things right. You're not seeking friendship here, you're wanting to right your wrongs now, so that God won't have to do it on Judgment Day when you stand to give account (Romans 14:10-12). Some people will work with you, others will curse and hate you until your dead.
With people like that all you can do is either making reconciliation from a distance (such as mail them some money or an apologize), or simply pray and give that burden to God. And these ought to be considered burdens to you. Anytime we hurt someone, it ought to be a BURDEN (something weighing heavily down upon our soul) until we reconcile, make restitution, and remedy the situation. That is justice. If we have caused another person's mind and heart to grieve with a heavy burden, for any immoral or unethical reason, then we have wronged them. Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” I am speaking about making peace in this article. When you reestablish a just scale (i.e., a balanced scale) then there is justice, and justice makes peace.
This is why Romans 5:1 states, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ's blood sacrifice brings peace unto all men who believe on Jesus, the Christ, the only begotten Son of God (John 20:31). There can be NO peace with God through vain religion, good works, ritualistic ceremonies, nor the Confessional Booth; but only by faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God Who paid for our sins. Jesus Christ died on a cross, was buried, and rose again 3 days later (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus paid our sin debt in full, so that we wouldn't have to spend eternity burning in Hell fire. Jesus' blood sacrifice appeased the wrath of God against sinners, bringing JUSTICE by applying His shed blood to the mercy seat in the heavenly Holy Place (Hebrews 9:12, 22-24). Salvation is now freely available to all who will BELIEVE on Jesus as the Christ, Who came into the world to save men from their sins (John 3:17).
If we don't let a matter go, then we can easily become overtaken by evil ourselves, stooping down to the level of our enemies, failing to exemplify Christ in our lives. Romans 12:21 says to overcome evil with good instead, by doing good no matter what others may do to us, say about us, think about us, or do to maliciously hurt us and destroy our reputation. Just as our Lord, we ought to be willing to do what it takes to make matters right, even if it means giving our last dollar, our coat, our home, or whatever is required to right our wrongs in this life.
Jesus mentioned if a man "sue thee." Obviously Jesus is speaking about something one did to offend another. So in matters where we are wrong, Jesus said to turn the other cheek as well, and to give up our other coat if need be, and to do everything possible to reconcile the matter. This restores justice, and peace is a byproduct of justice.
Sometimes Only God Can Make Things Right
A perfect example is a mother who has an abortion and then years later repents toward God. She now repents having killed her child. Now she realizes that she murdered her baby, likely talked into a hasty abortion by a lower-than-scum case-worker or Planned Parenthood social worker...
The government is eager, with deep pockets just waiting to abort; bring one, bring two, bring them all; we want them all dead so none live to grow tall; abort for this, abort for that, abort wherever you're at; a time to play, a time to read, a time to kill a child who will never play nor read; little one's, big one's, round ones fat, the abortion center is where it's at.
Abortion is injustice. The Bible says that the blood of Abel cried out from the ground to God in Genesis 4:10, “And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.” So does also the blood of over 51,000,000 aborted American children cry out to God from the grave to God... WE WANT JUSTICE! And they will have it, they WILL HAVE IT! Isaiah 13:11, “And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” I love everyone and don't want to see anything bad happen to anyone, God knows my heart. I am simply preaching the Word of God my friend. God is warning humanity of what is coming our way, and it's not very pretty for the wicked.
It makes God sick when politicians (governors) refuse to give clemency to prisoners on death row; but then they move on to bigger-and-better pursuits in The White House, killing millions of innocent people with the stroke of a pen, and no one is ever even indicted, and the criminal newsmedia covers it all up and protects the monstrous politicians. Meanwhile it's the everyday struggling Americans who continue to be demonized by the mainstream newsmedia. I call the lying mainstream newsmedia corporate whores, home-wreckers, and manure-spreaders.
God wants us to do our very best with the Holy Spirit's help to live in peace with others. Sometimes the only way to do this is to leave things in God's hands for judgment. We are not to render evil for evil against our enemies, which will only make matters worse and perhaps with deadly consequences. People are going to commit offences toward us, in every way, fashion, and form. I sometimes feel like a moving target for Satan, because one person after another do mean, horrible, and unspeakable things to hurt me. You wouldn't believe some of the abusive things people have done to hurt me, just to be cruel, try to get rid of me, get even with me, hurt me feelings, or they were simply having a bad day and taking it out on me. The Bible says to place these matters into God's hands for judgment.
Literally, let God sort them out, and He will I assure you because He has PROMISED in Romans 12:19 to avenge us. Jesus said in Matthew 18:7, “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Jesus warned that offences will inevitably come, because man's sinful nature is everywhere around us in our carnally-minded, morally-toxic, cesspool of iniquity, reprobate culture in America (1st John 5:19). We have abandoned God as a nation (Deuteronomy 6:12).
Many retailer stores, painters, and art crafters are now selling statues of idols to set in people's living rooms, or keep one in your car. Superstition is a road to Hell, blinding men's minds from the genuine truth of God. Some people would rather worship a car tire that they can kick, then to worship the great and divine God of the universe simply because they cannot see Him.
You have NO RIGHT Scripturally to expect someone to accept an apology from you, until you FIRST make full RESTITUTION. They have every right to demand back the money you cost them. They have every right to expect God to avenge them. Even if the person forgives you, you are still Scripturally obligated to right your wrongs. There is no justice until all of the elements in the imbalance are leveled out. Hurt feelings is one of the worst, and God has to deal with those too on Judgment Day.
This is why Jesus said men will be held accountable even for their words on Judgment Day (Matthew 12:36). 2nd Corinthians 5:9 speaks of being “accepted of Him” (i.e., well pleasing so that things will go agreeably in one's favor when on trial). Those who are not well-pleasing will face the “TERROR OF THE LORD” in 2nd Corinthians 5:10-11. This is the Judgment Seat of Christ only for the saints. In those matters where one either refuses or is unable to right their wrongs, then God will do so as Judge in eternity.
“That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” —1st Thessalonians 4:6
(an awesome Bible study series by Dr. Jack Hyles)
(audio by Dr. Jack Hyles)
What Happens to Believers Who Hurt Others?
The Judgment Seat of Christ
Defraud NOT Thy Brother!