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Question:
As a Christian, is restitution necessary? Does the Bible require it?

Answer:

Restitution is paying back something that was stolen, usually with a “penalty amount” as well.

It would be easy to answer this question by stating that the Old Testament commanded it (Exo 22:1; Lev 24:21; Lev 6:4), but the New Testament does not.

However, we have Zacchaeus in Luke 19 telling Jesus he would repay four times anything he had stolen. Jesus response was not “no, don’t do that. Forgiveness is enough.” The Lord responded that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house that day because of his desire to believe and obey God in all things.

As Christians, we have a higher standard in that we are not only concerned with following commandments, but we are also concerned with our attitudes. For example, Jesus said that adultery was not just the physical act as practiced under the Law, but for Christians it was also the purity of the heart. Lust is tantamount to adultery. We have a higher standard.

Given that, it’s not a question of “are we commanded to make restitution?” It is a matter of the heart that wants to make all things right when we have “stolen” from others, and do so in such a way as to honor God.

In that respect, YES, we are required to make restitution. How much? I think that is a matter of conscience, and seeking Godly counsel about. We should make restitution in all ways too, not just monetary. We need to make restitution if we’ve damaged reputations, hurt relationships, stolen time and emotions…. if we have “stolen” from someone, money or otherwise, we should be willing and ready to make restitution to

Readers, what are your thoughts about this? In what ways can we “steal” from others and how can we make restitution? Put your comments in the message boards here..

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