Each offering in Israel’s sacrificial system has its place, but there was a special feature of the guilt offering particularly relevant to the world of work. According to Leviticus, God required offerings whenever a person deceived another with regard to a deposit or a pledge, committed robbery or fraud, lied about lost property that had been found, or swore falsely about a matter. It was not a fine imposed by a court of law, but a reparation offered by perpetrators who got away with the offense, but who then felt guilty later.
Often such sins would have been committed in the context of commerce or other work. The guilt offering called for the remorseful sinner to return what was wrongfully taken plus 20 percent. Mere apology was not enough to right the wrong. Offenders willingly took on a share of the harm themselves, thereby sharing in the distress they caused the victim.
Doing all that is required to right a wrong against another person is not only fair for the offended, but it is also good for the offender. Nothing in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross releases the people of God today from the need for making restitution (see Matt. 5:23-24). Loving our neighbors as ourselves lies at the heart of the law’s requirements. Doing everything in our power to reconcile with people is an essential aspect of getting things right with God and living in peace wherever possible. Seldom will we have the ability to fully undo the damage our sin has caused, yet the love of Christ impels us to do as much as we are able.
How can you reconcile with others today? What restitution do you need to make?
Prayer: Jesus, I invite you to convict me when I have wronged others. I ask for the strength, courage, and humility to take steps toward reconciliation and restitution. Amen.
For Further Exploration: Read The Significance of the Guilt Offering (Leviticus 6:1-7), from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.
Author: Theology of Work Project
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