Friday, February 17, 2017
Double Tithe Restitution
Lev. 6:1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 When any of you sin and commit a trespass against the Lord by deceiving a neighbor in a matter of a deposit or a pledge, or by robbery, or if you have defrauded a neighbor, 3 or have found something lost and lied about it—if you swear falsely regarding any of the various things that one may do and sin thereby— 4 when you have sinned and realize your guilt, and would restore what you took by robbery or by fraud or the deposit that was committed to you, or the lost thing that you found, 5 or anything else about which you have sworn falsely, you shall repay the principal amount and shall add one-fifth to it. You shall pay it to its owner when you realize your guilt. 6 And you shall bring to the priest, as your guilt offering to the Lord, a ram without blemish from the flock, or its equivalent, for a guilt offering. 7 The priest shall make atonement on your behalf before the Lord, and you shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and incur guilt thereby.
God is displeased when humanity sins against society. The reach of those sins goes beyond the individuals, but to the whole of the community and thus to God. Any type of wrongful gain is a sin which must be confessed, but not only must there be confession, but there must be restitution. Because this sin not just been against God, but against the community of faith the penalty of repayment must also go to those who have been victims of the fraudulent behavior. Restitution is a double-tithe which must go to the individual or community which has been harmed. This is not just a fine, but it is a sacred duty for those desiring to be God’s holy people.
Far too often we have divided up our lives into two spheres; the spiritual and the physical. We talk about getting our “heart” right with God, but I don’t hear much about restitution these days. Since the very beginning of time, God’s language has been wholistic. We can’t be spiritually whole if we don’t deal with the physical. Whenever we read of Jesus’ healing powers we discover that he was dealing with the whole individual, people healed physically and spiritually at the same time.
There is a sacred responsibility for one to provide restitution for the wrongs they have committed. Yes, this is in relation to money, but it is more than money. It is restitution that comes out of an overabundance of gratitude for what God has done in our lives. Restitution is a reflection of God’s character to those who have been victims.
One area in which we struggle to respond in this way is to victims of sexual abuse. Sadly, even the church tends to look upon the victims with scrutiny and wonder whether they “deserved” it, or whether they helped to bring this on. Far too often we focus on the restoration of the individual who perpetrated the activity and forget that there are victims. Not only has God been wounded, but God’s children have had their lives damaged, creating a trajectory from which they may never recover. Marriage partners with deep scars often go ignored. It is the responsibility of the guilty party as well as the community of faith to work toward this double-tithe restitution. In other words, the victims are the ones who need an overabundance of God’s love and activity (counseling, etc.) to help them recover and have a healthy life.
Trying to divide the spiritual without physical restitution will never bring us to the place where we reflect the image of God. Double tithe restitution is our sacred responsibility.
Lord, thank you for the reminders of our responsibilities in life. May we never lose focus of the wounded who are among us and please help me to live out of a spirit of generosity. Amen.