Restitution – Making Amends God’s Way

DEAR LARRY:

I have heard many messages on restitution and need some counsel on what to do.  When I was small I used to steal my parents’ money and use it to buy things in school.  Sometimes my Mum caught me and punished me.  I also used to steal money from my Dad’s shop where the sales person kept it.  When I was about 16 years old I stopped it.  At 18 years, I became born again.  I have told my Mum that I’m sorry for what I did.  I really do not know the amount of money I have stolen from my Dad’s shop.  How do I make restitution in this case?  Do I need to go to my Dad’s employer?  What will you want me to do?

Favour

Dear Favour,
It’s not about what we would want you to do … but rather what would God want you to do.  It sounds as if you’ve made amends to and been forgiven by your parents for the money you stole from them.  But from what you’ve said, the money stolen from your Dad’s place of employment was not his money – but rather money belonging to his employer.  If that is the case, then you also owe amends to that individual or company.

You should simply go meet with the individual, confess that you stole money from them when you were younger, and ask for forgiveness.  Since you don’t know the amount that you actually took, try to estimate what it might have been and offer that as restitution.  If you don’t have that much money, offer to set up a repayment plan or to work it off.  Possibly the shopkeeper will forgive you and not ask for the payment.  If they do you are off the hook.  But if they take the offer of restitution, you should be willing to pay it.

 

About Larry Walker

Larry Walker loves God and loves people. He has a heart for teaching people how to follow Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. He has worked for years in a recovery ministry called Celebrate Recovery, and also counsels many Pastors throughout the country. Larry answers questions and provides practical application of biblical principles in everyday life. If you've got a question....ask Larry!


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Comments

  1. Brad says

    Hello Larry, The question from Favour applies to most if not all of us. When I was young (9 or 10) I helped pass the offering plates at our church and would steal cash every once in a while. Our family was poor and I wanted a few toys for myself. Forty years later the Holy Spirit prompts me to make restitution and ask forgiveness. I estimated the amount and sent the church a letter and money doubling what I believe I stole. It was a freeing moment in my life to first acknowledge my sin to God and then to the church. The truth did set me free. My advise to Favour is to meet the individual with check in hand for the full or partial amount, offer the check (and payment plan if necessary) and then explain he sinned against God and this man, make restitution and then thank God.

  2. Judith says

    I have taken money from people in the past. Some of the people are deceased and some I don’t know where they are. I don’t remember how much I took. I don’t know what God wants me to do do. Please help

  3. Larry says

    Judith, the Bible is quite clear about what God wants you to do. If you have taken money from people in the past, you are obligated – as a Christ-follower – to return it. If you cannot return it all at once, admit the sin, and begin making payments as earnestly as you possibly can. If some of the people are dead, pay the people who are still alive off first. Then the amount that you owe to the dead people goes to the church — it is the Lord’s money. And you should pay it to the church … over and above your regular tithe … as earnestly as you possibly can. You will most likely feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit until you become obedient to the Lord and do this.

  4. Mark says

    I am in the same kind of situation as Brad, I once took from the collection plate as a teenager. I paid the money back and asked God for forgiveness. Right now it is haunting me, what shall I do? Will God ever forgive me for this?

  5. Larry says

    Mark, if you are truthful about the fact that you paid the money back and confessed your sin to God, then you are certainly forgiven. It may be that the enemy (satan) is playing games with your head, trying to make you feel guilty – when you are not guilty. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It’s important to think about who Paul is talking about here. “Those who are in Christ Jesus” means those of us who are obedient to Jesus – who live life on His terms. In this case, it would be those of us who admit our wrongs and do whatever we can to make them right. So in your case, you admitted the wrong and you made it right. So at least in that aspect of your life, you are “in Christ Jesus.” And the Bible said that for those of us who are “in Christ Jesus,” there is no condemnation – no guilt – no shame. In fact, God is honored with how you’ve handled that sin in your life!

  6. Judith says

    I couldn’t remember how much money I took and also I do remember returning some of the money. I don’t know where the people are some are deceased. For some reason I felt the amount of $400.00 on my heart so I gave $400.00 to the Church.

  7. Larry says

    Judith, if the $400 that you gave to the church was in addition to your regular tithe to the church, then it sounds as if you’ve done the right thing. God is pleased when we do the right thing!

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