Question:

I led a sinful life before I became a Christian. I'd like to ask you a question about restitution. I was a thief. I shoplifted and stole from other people. Now, Zacchaeus tried to restore the money to those he'd stole from. But is it a command to do so?

For instance, before I became a Christian I stole from places like Walmart and Dollar General. Do I now need to write these companies a check and put it in the mail? I'dlike to make some restitution for what I've done, but I have no clue how much I've stole. I wouldn't know what amount to send.Plus I may go broke if Itry to do this.

Furthermore, I believe God forgave me of these sins when I was baptized. So should I just put this in the past? I think of this verse when my situation comes to mind, but I'd like your input. "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need"(Ephesians 4:28).

I have thought about this before. In fact, I've made restitution for many other deeds that I've done in the past. But I'm just wondering what step I should take with this situation. Thanks for all the help.


Answer:

Since you no longer know what you stole or how much, you are much like Zacchaeus who did not know how much he has overcharged people in taxes. Zacchaeus found a general way to payback what he may have stole. "Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold" (Luke 19:8). I would suggest a similar thing. Find out what charities these companies support and volunteer some time at a few of them to give back. Sometimes these companies sponsor drives for charities, so give to the drives so the companies get the credit.

Restitution is not required, but what God does require is a radical change in behavior. "For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:11). Giving back in some manner is a part of clearing yourself.