The Oasis - October 12, 2022
Author: Rev. Eric Dupee
October 13, 2022
The concept of reparations for slavery emerged in the news this week. At the moment, I’m not going to weigh in that debate. However, I am interested in the biblical teaching regarding the restoration of relationships after an injustice. It makes sense to me that, in order for a damaged or broken relationship to be repaired, whatever wrong was committed needs to be righted.
For example, if I were to steal your car and drive around for months, that would damage our relationship. Trust would be broken. It would be an injustice. I could apologize for stealing your car and admit wrongdoing, but if I continued to drive around in your car, you would have no reason to forgive me or to ever trust me again. Our relationship couldn’t possibly be restored until I actually returned your car.
The story of Zacchaeus highlights the value of reparations. He was a chief tax collector. He was also short in stature. In order to see Jesus, as he passed by on the road, Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree. When Jesus passed by, he said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” The crowd grumbled because he was a sinner. That’s when Zacchaeus offered reparations. He said, “Look, half my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:1-9).
I think of forgiveness as getting to place of not harboring the anger and resentment from being wronged. However, forgiveness itself does not necessarily lead to restoration of the relationship. To restore a relationship requires a change of behavior on behalf of the offending party. Are you harboring hard feelings over some wrong committed against you in your past? Is it time to release those feelings? Have you wronged another person? Is there a way to right that wrong? It worked for Zacchaeus.