I am 47 years old male from Chennai, India. I am a born Christian regular to protestant Church here. At the age of 42 in July 25, 2007, I have accepted Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord, Saviour & Friend and became converted / born-again.
Before conversion, like Zaheus in the Holy Bible, I have earned unrighteous money in way of bribes, kick backs, in my official capacity. Yesterday, I was meditating on St. Matthew Chapter 6. I prayed to our Lord that I have accepted You and You are living within me. Please tell me & guide me how to restitute the same.
This I have not taken from any individual, but from companies where there is no ownerships and I cannot repay to them now. The part the money is lying now in my various land properties and the house where I stay now. I have asked Lord to reveal how to do this.
Do you have any suggestions on this.
Indeed you have asked a good question, and you have asked it of the right people. Galatians 6:1 tells us that if a brother in Christ is caught in a situation regarding his sin, “you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” So it is in fact God’s will that you turn to spiritually mature Christian brothers for guidance on what to do.
Before I answer your question, I want you to be aware of the fact that you have what we would call a dilemma. That word is defined as a situation where one is faced with making a choice between equally undesirable alternatives. Said differently, there is not an answer to your question which you will like.
Restitution is a biblical concept, and it’s consistent throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, for example, we’re told that, “A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft. If the stolen animal is found alive in his possession … he must pay back double. If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man’s field, he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard. If a fire breaks out and spreads into thorn bushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution. . . If a man borrows an animal from his neighbor and it is injured or dies . . . he must make restitution” (Exodus 22:1-14)
It doesn’t have to be outright theft in order for restitution to be in order.
In the passage of Exodus 22:1-14, we can see that God takes making restitution so seriously that He would even command someone to sell themselves into slavery in order to accomplish the restitution. Mind you, God is not an advocate of slavery. But clearly He sees needed restitution as being more important to our spiritual wholeness than our civil freedom. That’s how God wants us to set our priorities. In many ways, restitution is about repairing our earthly relationships in order to honor our heavenly Father.
In the passage of Leviticus 6:4-5 which explains the restitution was to be made on the same day that the guilty one would bring his sacrifice before the Lord. So it was that making amends with whomever we’ve wronged is just as important as making peace with God. Similarly, Jesus told us in Matthew 5:23-24, “… if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift (of worship to the Lord). This “brother” could be someone you have harmed in your own family, or it could be a biblical neighbor (ie anyone you encounter) that you need to reconcile your relationship with.
We understand this passage in Matthew to have very serious implications. It’s telling us that God doesn’t want our worship if we have any relationships in our life which need reconciling and for which we have not made our best effort to be reconciled in. This would of course include restitution for ill-gotten financial gain. Said differently, if you aren’t willing to make it right and haven’t put your best effort into making it right … you have no business worshipping the Lord.
In Luke 19, we have the story of Jesus visiting Zacchaeus’ home. Now Zacchaeus was known as an evil man who cheated others, took bribes, etc. But he had taken his stand for Christ and made a public confession right there. And he committed to repay his ill-gotten gain by giving fully half of all his possessions to the poor. Additionally, he committed to make specific restitution to parties he had wronged by paying them back four times the amount he’d gained from cheating them.
The same result of repentance is expected for anyone who truly knows Christ today. Genuine repentance leads to a desire to do whatever we can humanly do to right the wrongs in our past. When someone becomes a Christian, he will have a desire born of deep conviction from the Holy Spirit to do what’s right.
How to make restitution
But restitution, like other fruits of the Spirit, is a result of our salvation. It is never a requirement in order to gain salvation.
Now you pointed out that you had taken bribes from companies and not individuals. You need to know that the inability to identify the injured party or make restitution to them directly does not let you off the hook. Even if you wronged someone who is now dead, you would owe them restitution in the Lord’s eyes. In Numbers 5:7-8, God tells us that the one who has ill-gotten gain, “… must confess the sin he has committed. He must make full restitution for his wrong, add one fifth to it and give it all to the person he has wronged. But if that person (is not alive and) has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belong to the Lord and must be given to the priest …” So if you cannot find the injured party or their heirs and successors, you owe the restitution to the Lord. In that case, you would take it to your church and make a donation with the explanation that it is not part of your regular tithes and offerings, but rather is restitution required by the Lord.
Why make restitution?
Finally, there are two more verses that I will cite to help guide your thinking. I believe, dear brother, as I said in the beginning, that you have a difficult choice to make here. Certainly you as a human can choose to ignore God’s command that you make restitution. You’ve already said the ill-gotten gain is tied up in non-cash or other illiquid assets. Let me assure you that it will be worth your trouble to liquidate them or even donate the non-cash asset in order to accomplish your restitution. (If you’d like, we can help you take account of your assets and decide what to do with them.)
So Maxwell, my brother in Christ, if you should choose to ignore this conviction that the Holy Spirit has placed on your heart — your children and their heirs will suffer for it. (Job 20:10)
My dear brother in Christ, I sense that you have a very tender and sincere heart. And I realize that what I’ve just written you is not easy to hear (or read). So let me take you back to where we started, in Galatians 6:1 which speaks of the brother who is caught in sin (that’s you, Maxwell). It says that we who are spiritual (that’s me and other spiritual leaders God may have placed in your life) are to gently restore you. That means that we stand with you, we pray for you, we encourage you to do right, we challenge you and we celebrate your obedience. Said differently, you should get others who are more spiritually mature than you involved in the discussion about this repentance that you are about to undertake. Get godly advice and seek the wisdom of the Lord from His people to help you make the decisions that need to be made.
Editor’s Note: WOW…what an amazing response to one article. We are very happy to help, but for now we are going to close the comments on this article. If you have your own situation where you need advice on restitution or anything else, please use our About > Contact Us form to submit a new “Dear Larry” question and we will post the question and reply as a new article.