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  • Writer's pictureMitch Horton

Forgiveness And Relationship Restoration: Where Do I Draw The Line?

When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against the Lord, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged. But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution for the wrong must go to the Lord for the priest, in addition to the ram of the atonement with which atonement is made for him (Numbers 5:6-8). Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24).

Restitution, or restoring the former state of a relationship, is something that we don’t hear much about in our day, and it’s an important part of walking uprightly before the Father.

When we sin, and confess our sins, the Father is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). And when God forgives sin, He forgets what we did, and we can then move on.

However, If our sin and misdeed affects another person, it is not enough to just go to the Father and ask Him only to forgive us! In order to bring closure to that misdeed or sin when others are affected, we must go to that person, and confess that what we said or did was wrong, and tell them we’ve repented before God and asked Him to forgive. Then we must ask them to forgive us for what we did. This is a part of restitution.

If a thief steals what belongs to another, becomes convicted of his misdeed or sin and repents, then he must also give back the stolen items to the person he stole them from. That is restitution. And when our sin affects others, we must deal with how that sin altered the relationship! Don’t just go to God; go to the other person also!

I’m talking here about things that are done out in the open and are known by others. If you’re holding a grudge or have been judging someone, and the person is unaware of this because you’ve hid it well, then this doesn’t need to be confessed to the person. No restitution is necessary. The person had no idea in  this instance that there was a problem.

But if you do something and it has harmed another in some way, then part of the repentance for these sins must include restitution.

Understand also that when we forgive another person for something they have done, it is not always possible to restore the relationship. We must always forgive wrongs committed against us. But sometimes we must forgive and the offending party has not or refuses to change. There are times we must forgive but that forgiveness does not mean that we accept the relationship again just the way it was before the offence occurred. In forgiveness, we release the hold we have on someone where we expect them to make it right. We release the hard feelings and declare that the person no longer owes us anything.

But restitution of the relationship is only possible if the person committing the offence repents of their behavior. Cases like this would be those that suffer physical or sexual abuse. They must forgive, but restitution of the relationship may not be possible because the abuser is still abusing. Or another example may be if a person has stolen from you or cheated you in a business transaction, using lies and deceitful tactics, and the person would not admit what they did and you have no way of recovering the lost money. You must forgive them, but you certainly should not do business with them again!

Let’s keep short accounts with the Father and with others, and let’s be responsible for our actions and choices and how others are affected by them! And let’s restore relationships when we forgive when possible.

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