Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them allLeviticus 6:1-7 (ESV)
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
6:2 "If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor
6:3 or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely--in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby--
6:4 if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found
6:5 or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt.
6:6 And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering.
6:7 And the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty."
The principle of making amends goes back a long way in the scriptures. This passage is from the book of Leviticus, one of the books of the law written by Moses, and is one of numerous passages from that book that tell of the requirements of the law of Moses for making amends. In this case, it is for the sin of stealing, cheating or making a gain from threats or lies. The command is to make amends by returning the amount to the person and then also pay an additional 20% of the value of the item. In addition, it is necessary to bring an offering to the priest for this sin, a trespass offering. If we are a believer in Christ, then first of all we might give praise to God that Jesus has made this sacrifice for sin on our behalf. We should realize that this grace for us cost a tremendous price for Christ and we should not take that lightly. If we are a Christian, then we believe that there has been a new dispensation, a new covenant between God and His people as given in the New Testament. However, the character of God remains the same in the New Testament and the Old Testament, as does for the most part the nature of man as well. Although Christians have a new dispensation in the New Testament, the belief of this commentator is that this principle of making amends from the book of Leviticus can and should still be fruitfully applied in our lives. In verse 6:7, we are told that after the processing of making amends that there would be forgiveness. So amends for Christians can be pursued towards the goal of bringing about greater forgiveness and peace in our relationships and the world, which are strong values to be found in both the Old and New Testaments.2 Samuel 12:1-14 (ESV)
And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, "There
were two men in a certain
city, the one rich and the other poor.
12:2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds,
12:3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him.
12:4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."
12:5 Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die,
12:6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity."
12:7 Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul.
12:8 And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.
12:9 Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
12:10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'
12:11 Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.
12:12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.'"
12:13 David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
12:14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die."
In this passage we have an instance of what might be called "forced amends", if you will, based upon the judgment of God more than a willing heart. David has committed adultery with Bathsheba and has had Bathsheba's husband (Uriah) killed in battle in order to cover up his (David's) sin. When Nathan the prophet makes a parable for what David has done, then David becomes infuriated and sees the great injustice of it all and says that the amends should be fourfold. Then Nathan utters those lines that have been used in many literary works since "Thou art the man". Indeed, our sin may or may not be the same as David's, but as an addict we can surely find instances where someone can point to us and say "Thou art the man" (or woman). We are guilty of taking the goodness and grace of God and of others and abusing it, ignoring it, or manipulating it into something selfish, arrogant, ugly and evil. We are the man. In this case, David had to pay fourfold for his sin, just as he himself had proclaimed in his judgment. In David's case, the judgment involved violence not departing from his own house and sexual immorality being rampant in his own family and David's shame made public to Israel. In this we see that God is a God of justice in spite of what relationship we may or may not have had with God before. If we are believers in Christ, then we can legitimately hope for mercy through the blood of Christ. At the same time, the same God is the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament so we can legitimately expect judgment mixed with this mercy as well. In reading through the events that followed in David's life, it might be surmised that had David been more diligent in rooting out sin and become more aware of the sin in his life and those around him (for becoming aware of sin in our own lives and the lives of others can often go hand in hand), then we can imagine that some of the devastation might have been avoided later in his life. That is what we might hope for in Christ - that by His grace we can be more diligent and careful and effective in rooting out sin in our lives and to see it more accurately in the world around us. We have this added grace through Christ. But amends still need to be made, consequences still need to be endured as we remain faithful to Christ. God will still need to prune us to bear fruit for Him. If we willingly embrace the notion of making amends and consciously make that effort, then that can open up a window for God's mercy and grace to flow in our lives and even possibly allow us to avoid some judgment from the Lord. At the very least, we can grow in Christ and our knowledge of Him as we endure whatever sufferings may come in our life.Proverbs 16:6-7 (ESV)
By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear
of the LORD one turns away
16:7 When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
When we are making amends, we are "purging iniquity". The NKJV translates this verse "In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity...". In other words, when we live in mercy and truth we are making atonement, we are purging the iniquity from our lives and from the lives of others. This is what making amends is all about - about purging iniquity, purging the poison that came from our addictive behaviors in our own lives, the lives of others and in our relationships. In 16:7 we see a possible consequence from this purging the iniquity and that is that those who were once our enemies can become those who are at peace with us. Our relationships can be restored to those of peace, harmony and trust where there once was strife and suspicion.
Ezekiel 33:14-16 (ESV)
Again, though I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' yet if he turns
from his sin and does what is
just and right,
33:15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
16:7 None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.
In Ezekiel 33 the Lord tells of His standards for forgiveness and righteousness and repentance. Several times in this chapter we are told that we cannot rest in our righteous deeds and expect that we are immune to judgment if we fall into sin. Neither is it hopeless if we fall into sin, as there is a path through repentance where we can turn back to righteousness. In these verses it is also pointed out that repentance can involve making amends - "restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed" (33:15).Luke 19:8-10 (ESV)
And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my
goods I give to the poor. And if
I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold."
19:9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.
19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Zacchaeus was the "chief among the tax collectors, and he was rich" (Luke 19:2). In IIsrael at the time of Jesus it was common for tax collectors to take some extra tax for themselves to line their own pockets. We do not know if or how often Zacchaeus himself may have done this, and perhaps he had not even kept track. But when Jesus came to his house, Zacchaeus became a changed man. He wanted to set everything right, and part of setting everything right was to pay back anything that he had gotten unjustly - and not only to pay it back but to pay it back FOURFOLD. This is an example of spontaneously wanting to make amends. And note the response of Christ to this announcement. Christ blesses him. It is often easy once we have our addictive behavior behind us to look only forward and forget about people we may have hurt in the past. But here we see how blessed it can be to go further and to take the step of making amends to those we have wronged. In Zacchaeus' case, it brought the Lord to proclaim "This day is salvation come to this house...".Romans 12:18 (ESV)
12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
In Step 8 we begin the process of trying to make peace with those around us who we may have hurt. We are admonished here by the apostle Paul to "live peaceably with all". By making amends we do our part in helping to create peace where there might be resentment, hurt and destruction in the wake of our addictive behaviors. The additional wisdom of this verse also gives this qualification - "as much as lies in you". We may do our best to make amends and these amends may not be accepted by others. It is the right of others to decide whether they want to forgive us or not. What we have control over is in making the proper amends. How other people respond to our amends is up to them.