Restitution, Restore

<<making amends, give back or ‘make good’>>

This is not punishment or getting even, rather it is making things right, by restoring what was taken, lost, damaged or destroyed and is part of the reconciliation process. Through Adam, sin entered into the human race but through Christ, its long-term repercussions are cancelled for those who take advantage of the salvation offered. God is more interested

Aren’t you glad Jesus came to restore us to God?

in repentance than punishment (Rom 5:12-19, 8:1-4). Jesus came to restore us back into relationship with God, and return to us what had been forfeited. This involved destroying the works of the devil, and proclaiming freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind – that is, for sinners (Lk 4:18,19; Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 3:8).

In the OT God promised to restore or give back what had been lost or destroyed if the people turned back to Him (Joel 2:13,25). He is a God who doesn’t change and so if we repent He will draw near to us because He desires fellowship with us (2 Chr 7:14; Lam 3:40; Mal 3:6,7; Jas 4:7,8). David prayed, “cleanse me from sin I have done against you and restore unto me the joy of your salvation” (Ps 51:2,4,12). Restoration follows confession as Peter discovered (Jn 21:15-18). After the very severe tests that God allow Job to be subjected to, he received back double what had been taken from him (Job 42:10).

We are accountable for our actions and there are always consequences that need to be addressed when inappropriate actions have taken place – this is the principle of cause and effect. All forms of government, from God down through the various delegated authorities of national leadership to church, school, employment and even family structure, have in place discipline structures in the form of laws or rules that aim to bring a correction in the behaviour of the offender.

The OT outlines different levels of restitution for different crimes against others. It states “Restitution must be made”, and in each case it was more than the initial item involved because the innocent victim was not to suffer or be disadvantaged because of the misconduct of the offender (Ex 22:1-15; Lev 6:1-6; Prov 6:31). In comparison, most of today’s laws just concentrate on punishing the offender, not dealing with their issues and with little or no compensation or restitution for the victim. As a result the offenders remain un-reformed, the victims unhealed and communities live in fear of repeat offending.

We should seek to restore any broken relationships that affect us personally. Besides, as His representatives we are to actively encourage this reconciliation between others, as well as between people and God (Mt 5:9; 2 Cor 5:18-20; Gal 6:1; Jas 5:19,20). We should also be proactive in restoring backsliders to the faith they once enjoyed (Jas 5:19,20).

See also: church discipline, crime and punishment, forgive/forgiveness, justice, offence, punishment, reconciliation, restorative justice, victim.