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Apologies and Restitution

We have all seen the following scenario:  little Joey and Tommy are playing in the playground. Joey starts hitting Tommy. Joey’s mom comes over and separates the boys and tells little Joey that he needs to say I’m sorry. Little Joey doesn’t want to say I’m sorry, but after a while reluctantly agrees, and mutters a begrudging “I’m sorry”.  Now that she’s gotten an apology from Joey for Tommy the stressed mama makes sure the boys are still separate, and backs off.  However, in a few minutes, the incident starts again, maybe this time it’s Tommy hitting Joey, or it could just as well be Joey hitting Tommy again. We’ve all seen it.

First of all, we want to acknowledge that mom is doing a good thing in getting her son to apologize.  But my question is did the mother really do everything she could to help the situation. Well, if all she wants to do is teach the principle of saying “I’m sorry” after an injustice, then yes she did.  But if she wants to teach her child to build relationships then there certainly is a lot more work to be done here.

While we’re on the topic, the above example is young children but it seems many adults follow the same principle. In that principle all that you ever have to do is apologize, i.e., say “I’m sorry”.

The problem is that just saying “I’m sorry” does not: number one, restore the relationship to a healthy state, and number two, fulfill the guidance that the Bible has provided throughout the ages.

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luk 19:1-10 ESV)

Zacchaeus was a rich tax collector, because of that he was not popular. But our Lord praised him, both by staying at his house, and also with his words.  The principle that this section brings out is the principle of restitution. If Zacchaeus defrauded someone he restored him fourfold.  That means if Zacchaeus wrongly took a thousand dollars from someone, he gave them four thousand to correct the situation.

Now, before I go too much further, I do want to say a word about restitution and the law. I have heard it argued that Christians don’t need to make restitution because they are not under the law, and it was the law that required restitution. But I say to you, that not all things in the law are limited to being only part of the law. For example, the law made exact provisions for honoring the principle of resting on the Sabbath, and because of that, some people say resting on the Sabbath is part of the law so we don’t have to do that. But I say to you, that God rested on the seventh day of creation before there was ever a law and so set the example that a day of rest is an eternal principle that is not limited to the law. Likewise, the Law was full of offerings, but we see in the first chapters of Genesis in the story of Cain and Abel the principle of offerings to the Lord and that they should be worthy of being an  offering.  Giving to God, making an offering, is a universal principle outside the confines of the law, So, likewise, is the principle of restitution: when someone has harmed someone or caused them loss, in order to restore the relationship, the person’s loss needs to be paid back as closely as possible. And if you look at the examples in the Bible of restitution, what is paid back is most often more than what was lost.  Zacchaeus above paid fourfold.   There are varying amounts in the law:

“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double. “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard. “If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution. “If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double.(Exo 22:1-7 ESV)

The above section call for “full restitution”, double, fourfold and fivefold restitution in varying cases.  Those amounts were under the law which no longer binds us.  But the examples of restitution show that the person is generous in making restitution.

Restitution shows the goodwill of the restorer. The person making restitution wants the injured party to feel good about their relationship again.

The Empty Apology

The complete opposite of restitution is the empty apology. The empty apology goes like this; Frank and Mary worked in the same shop. Frank goes into the refrigerator and eats Mary’s sandwich. Mary finds out that it was Frank that ate the sandwich and Frank says “I’m sorry.”  Mary is a generous person, and since  this the first time this has happened she says okay and walks away. But a few days later Frank is hungry again, and sees Mary’s sandwich in the refrigerator and eats it.   Mary again finds out that it’s Frank but Frank is quick to apologize again, and says I’m sorry. Mary is a little troubled but forgives again. Then it happened the third time.  Mary is now upset with Frank. She tries to talk with him but his response is “I said I’m sorry!”  The words “I’m sorry” imply that there were feelings of remorse, and consequently, that the infraction would not be repeated. Clearly Frank does not have that understanding. Rather, Frank appears to have the understanding that you can do anything you want and the only price you’ll ever have to pay are two words, “I’m sorry.” Frank’s apology is empty.

The example of eating a sandwich may not relate to you.  The example could be 1 of a million other things, someone not sharing in the chores, a family member spending more than their share of family funds on fun items, not cleaning up messes, and those are just light examples.   How about more serious ones like mates flirting with other people, mates cheating with other people,  getting into fights, staying out drinking, or taking someone’s car without permission.  There are a  million issues that come up between people, the list goes on and on, i.e., always making you late, or always making you wait, etc. etc. etc.

And there are a ton of excuses; “I forgot” being maybe the biggest.  “I forgot”, “it didn’t seem important”, “I couldn’t help myself”, “I got too busy” all show a lack of care for the person you say this to.  “I didn’t agree with you”, “I’m not going to do that”, or even “you’re crazy if you think I’m going to do that”  are inflamatory words that will increase the conflict.  (Certainly there are times when someone has unreasonable expectations but I’m not talking about those.  I have given examples of clear infractions here starting with Joey hitting Tommy.)

The point is that the words “I’m sorry” are empty if they are not followed by action. Of course we are encouraged to forgive one another knowing that God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. And we certainly want to teach our kids to forgive as well as practice it ourselves.   But we are also to be wise as serpents. And when we see someone constantly violating, constantly performing some grievance, we are not going to feel loved, or possibly even safe in that relationship.

Restitution

So what does it take to restore a relationship? If you make a mess, you clean it up, whether it’s your stuff or not. If a little child takes a toy from another child they should at least let the other child pick one of theirs that they can play with for a while. The point is that the other child needs to feel the love.

Sometimes to restore a relationship you offer something the other person wants. If the person you offended already cleaned up the mess you made perhaps there’s a gift you can give them along with the reassurance that in the future you’ll clean up the mess. If you destroy someone’s clothes you buy them clothes as nice or nicer than that you destroyed.  Or if you’re always making someone late maybe you can do the seemingly impossible and start being ready before the other person so that they can see the you are genuinely committed to being on time.

In a fight sometimes both parties need to make restitution.  Maybe the other person started it but you allowed yourself to heap false accusations and false motives on the other person.  At the very least you need to acknowledge that your words were not true and express the good characteristics that the other person has but that you maligned.

Restitution is not some legal principle of the law of the Old Testament that was only enacted by a tough God in that tough set of precepts called the Law.  Restitution is the principle used of by loving people to restore love to the relationship.

So both in parenting and in our own lives we need to teach and practice apologies with restitution as part of the system of restoring relationships and not as a way to say a quick “I’m sorry” and exonerate ourselves as we continue to act selfishly.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

 

 

August 15th, 2018 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments

A Simple Faith

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s president Rev. Mark G. Schroeder made the statement: “We rejoice that even in the Catholic Church (where we believe the gospel has been distorted) there are many Catholics who hold to a simple faith in Jesus Christ as their savior and who will ultimately be saved,”i

I focus here of Schroeder’s point of a shared simple faith. He wasn’t the first to say it, I’ve heard it more times and places than I can count. In its simplest form it states that there is a basic set of beliefs that unites all true Christians of any denomination.

The Apostle Paul addressed what this concept of simple faith is when he wrote to the Corinthians.

Paul wrote in 1 Cor 15:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”

(1Co 15:3-4 ESV)

Our simple faith starts here. Jesus redeemed us. We were all dead in sin. Jesus who never sinned paid the price for that sin by dying on the cross for us, the ultimate sacrifice. There are a number of elements that we share in our common faith but they start here. We are redeemed by out risen Lord and Savior.
The Corinthians are examples of believers who strayed off the simple faith that our Lord brought. The first chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians tells us that:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) (1Co 1:10-16 ESV)

We could say the same things about denomination leaders. Was the pope crucified for you, or Martin Luther, or John Wesley, or the leaders of the Southern Baptists, or Methodists, or Presbyterians, or any other faction in the church today? Were you baptized in any of their names?

The succeeding chapters in both letters to the Corinthians cover issue after issue that was contended by the factions including who they followed as a leader, family and marriage issues, sex outside marriage, dating, offering things to idols, holy communion, spiritual gifts and manifestations, the resurrection, dealing with anxiety, persecution and other stresses, and giving.

The list of things contended may be different today but the charge to resolve the factions still remains and will remain as long as the Lord tarries.

So let us all remember, as the Apostle Paul charges,

For when one may say, Truly I am of Paul, and another, I of Apollos; are you not fleshly? What then is Paul? And what Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, and to each as the Lord gave? I planted, Apollos watered, but God made to grow. So as neither he planting is anything, nor he watering, but God making to grow. So he planting and he watering are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For of God we are fellow-workers, a field of God, and you are a building of God. According to God’s grace given to me, as a wise master builder, I laid a foundation, but another builds on it. But let each one be careful how he builds. For no one is able to lay any other foundation beside the One having been laid, who is Jesus Christ. And if anyone builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, the work of each will be revealed; for the Day will make it known, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire will prove the work of each, what sort it is. (1Co 3:4-13 LITV)

Paul says no man can lay any foundation other than what was laid: Jesus Christ, and that is the only thing that matters, everything else will be burned up in the end.
So lets all everywhere always remember that it is about what Christ achieved for us, and we are fellow laborers in this endeavor so lets act like it.

ihttps://wels.net/about-wels/what-we-believe/, Wels.net is a website run by The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’, This page is entitled “What we believe”

July 27th, 2018 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments

Communion’s Deep Meaning – Christ’s Sacrifice Has Freed Us From The Power of Sin

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
(1Co 11:23-25 ESV)

Those are oft quoted verses in many churches before the start of the communion service.  I would like to look at what Paul wrote about Communion in the entire context. The larger context in First Corinthians shows multiple issues with communion in the time of Paul:

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.  (1Co 11:17 ESV)
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,  (1Co 11:18 ESV)
for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.  (1Co 11:19 ESV)
When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.  (1Co 11:20 ESV)
For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.  (1Co 11:21 ESV)
What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.  (1Co 11:22 ESV)
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,  (1Co 11:23 ESV)
and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  (1Co 11:24 ESV)
In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  (1Co 11:25 ESV)
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  (1Co 11:26 ESV)
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.  (1Co 11:27 ESV)
Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  (1Co 11:28 ESV)
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.  (1Co 11:29 ESV)
That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.  (1Co 11:30 ESV)
But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  (1Co 11:31 ESV)
But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.  (1Co 11:32 ESV)
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—  (1Co 11:33 ESV)
if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.  (1Co 11:34 ESV)

There are numerous points made in this section and I would like to touch on some of them,

In verses 20-21 Paul writes “ When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat – For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal”. Paul also says that at these meals some people go hungry while others get drunk. Paul makes a distinction here between just eating a meal together with other believers and the Lord’s Supper. He is saying that just getting together with other believers for a meal is not the Lord’s supper. He goes on in the next verses to ask things like don’t you have your own houses to live in, and don’t you see the you’re humiliating the people who come to these gatherings and don’t get to eat?

In verses 23 through 25 Paul lays out the pattern of service for holy Communion. In verse 23 he specified that this is the instruction that he received. Jesus started with the bread, and announced, “This is my body”.  At this point he gives the directive, “Do this in remembrance of me”. In the next verse he specifies the next step in the procedure, which is the same way Jesus did it! Paul then quotes the words of Jesus, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

In verse 26 he then states the spiritual significance of what is going on – that as often as you do this you are declaring the importance of Jesus’s death in our lives. Jesus’ broken body became our sin. Jesus’ blood washed away those sins, and this became The New Covenant with God!

This, then, is the point. Jesus’ death frees us from the power of sin.  Because he died for us Jesus is life giving.  Because of his death Jesus is healing. Because he gave his body Jesus is resurrecting. That is why his body is the bread of life.   Remembering these things is breath and life, bread and wine, and  eternal power to us.

Further on in the verses, verse 27 does specify that people who receive communion without this frame of mind are unworthy and are actually part of the problem that Jesus had to go to the cross for. In verse 30 says that if you partake of the Last Supper without this frame of mind you bring judgment on yourself. He even goes on to say that this lack of believing in what Christ’s body and blood accomplished is at the cause of why so many are weak, ill, and dying. And that is because weakness, sickness and yes, death, are with us because of the power of sin in the world.

In my own head I see a vision of holy Communion with a neon sign flashing, “Jesus Christ Became Sin For You” – “His Death Washed Away Your Sin” “Sin Has No Power Over You”- “Walk In Deliverance”. Or how about this:


provided by: www.criticallayouts.com
Praise the Lord for the Last Supper. Praise the Lord he gave us this service to be done as often as we get together to have this supremely powerful thought in our head of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross!

 

 

August 23rd, 2017 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments