There is no moving forward with God until we have done all that we can to not only mend, but truly restore, how we have harmed our fellow man.
Continuing on completely through the Bible, Leviticus 6 (link) comes up next. Leviticus gets a bad rap as a boring plod, for the record, as there is more here than we often give credit for. You just have to actually read it and consider what you find.
First, remember that Leviticus is about living life in light of God’s holiness. At the core of it, that is what you are dealing with here: How do we live in the presence of a holy God?
Leviticus gives us the first part of the answer. The fullness of the answer is found in the righteousness of Christ and His death on the Cross. However, while the Incarnation remains the most important interaction between God and humanity, we have the remainder of Scripture to consider and to help flesh out how we live in light of that.
That is where we come to in this chapter. The headers in the NASB do not do justice to the section. While it does address more about guilt offerings, that fairly generic title misses the richness of the chapter. Always be wary of chapter headings—they can be descriptive while still missing the point.
Here we see in the first few verses a very important reality. These verses address the sins that people commit against each other—how we cannot be trusted with one another’s possession. How it is extraordinarily dangerous to trust other people with power over the lives of others, because people do not always handle that power well.
It is clear from Scripture that sin is primarily the destruction of the relationship between God and man through man’s violation of God’s standards. Yet we cannot make the mistake of thinking that sin is only about our relationship with God. There is also the damage done to others by what we do.
In this chapter we see an important fact: we must reconcile with others if our sins have harmed them. That is not an option.
Here we see that before the atoning sacrifice can be offered to reconnect God and man, the offender must first not only restore what had harmed the other, but must even exceed the damage done. This is mandatory, not optional. It is necessary if we have stolen, if we have negligently lost or destroyed, or our dishonesty has harmed them.
The addition of one-fifth to the losses reflects that it should always cost us more than we gained when we harm others. No matter what we think we gained, it will always cost us more in the end.
The decision that has to made is this: do we want to have our relationship with God flow naturally? Or do we want to leave small barriers that grow into big ones?
That leads us to this: there is no moving forward with God until we have done all that we to not only mend, but truly restore, how we have harmed our fellow man.
This matters. It matters because we often advance ourselves without consideration of the cost to others. We improve our days by venting our rage at some unsuspecting worker. We satisfy our urges to the detriment of our spouse. We make other choices and the only consideration is how it benefits us.
That cannot be the manner in which Christians walk through life. Since we are redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, we do not have the obligation to make right before our sins are forgiven. Instead, we have the responsibility to respond to grace by reconciling with others.
It stands between us and walking fully with Christ.