If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor... when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion... And as a penalty they must bring to the priest, that is, to the Lord, their guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value.Leviticus 6:2,4,6
Here we will deal with the last of the five basic, fundamental human needs represented by the five offerings which God taught the Israelites from the tent of meeting. The guilt offering is the last of these five. This offering is the final one of this series of five because it deals with the relationship of man with man, with how to maintain a workable relationship with our neighbor. This is the offering which teaches us how to restore harmony to broken human relationships.
One of the sins covered by the trespass offering deals with when we cheat or rob or defraud a neighbor. When this is faced, it must be restored. The relationship is broken, and what we need to learn from this offering is that it will never heal until the offense is admitted. Time will not cure this kind of hurt. You can injure somebody in this way today and fifty years might go by before you see that individual again. But when you see them the relationship is still broken, the hurt is still there, and the restraint on your own spirit will be felt immediately.
I remember that as a young Christian I was working for a contractor. It was my task to make out the checks at the end of the month, including my own. One month I needed some money and asked my boss if I could have an advance of $25.00, to which he consented. I wrote out a check which he signed and I cashed it. Then at the end of the month when I was making out the regular checks I actually forgot that I had already drawn $25. So I made out my own check for the usual amount. It wasn't until after the boss had signed it and given it to me that I remembered. I realized that he hadn't remembered either. I rationalized, saying to myself,
Well, he really owes it to me anyway. I've been working very hard. So I'll just say nothing about it. My job soon ended and I went back to school, and for a couple of years I went on and lived with that, but I never could forget it. So one day, I wrote him a letter and I sent back the $25. I told him what I had done, said that I was wrong, and asked him to forgive me. Soon I received a gracious letter from him inviting me to come back and work for him any time. What a load this lifted off my own spirit.
And so this trespass offering is provided for us, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, that we might heal all the broken relationships of the past. If you want to have a clear conscience before God some of you may have to go back and heal some broken relationships. You may have to make some restitutions. You may have to admit some errors. But once you do, those relationships will be healed before God, and will be a glory and a blessing to you for the rest of your life.
Father, how thoroughly you understand what can lurk in my life, hidden away, and keep me from living together comfortably with one another. And how wonderfully and wisely you have made provision for me in your Word so that I can live, love, and enjoy life with others without constant strain and tension.
The scriptures equate defrauding our neighbor with unfaithfulness to our Lord. Are we taking care to guard the integrity of our human relationships, to the end that God is glorified?