You can still make restitution for long-past misdeeds
by Billy Graham
November 16, 2013 12:40 AM | 659 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Q: Many years ago, I stole some money from the owner of a store where I was working. The store no longer exists and the owner has died, but now that I’m a Christian I know I did wrong and feel I ought to make things right somehow. Or has God already forgiven my theft and I’m worrying needlessly? — A.S.

A: When Jesus Christ died for you, all your sins -- without exception -- were placed on Him, and He took upon Himself the judgment you deserved. The Bible says, “When you were dead in your sins... God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 2:13).

One way we know we’ve truly given our lives to Christ, however, is that we regret the wrong things we once did, and if possible we want to make them right. Yes, God has forgiven all your sins, but He also wants you to do whatever you can to heal any hurts or undo any damage you’ve caused. God’s will is for us to “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).

I often think of a man who met Jesus one day by the name of Zacchaeus. He apparently had grown very wealthy by cheating people while collecting taxes for the Roman government. But when he met Jesus, his attitude completely changed, and he was determined to reverse the wrongs he’d done. He declared, “Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).

Since you can no longer repay the store owner, I suggest you make a special gift to your church or other ministry that will help others in the name of Christ.

Q: Are we just hopelessly old-fashioned, like our niece says? She just moved in with her boyfriend, and now she wants to bring him along when her family comes for Christmas. We’ve told her that she’s welcome, but not to bring the boyfriend. We don’t have a spare bedroom for him, and we refuse to approve of the way they’re living. — Mrs. K.R.

A: No, you’re not just being old-fashioned, but you are facing a dilemma that’s unfortunately become increasingly common today. As our society drifts further and further away from the moral and spiritual values it once held, many no longer live according to the standards God has given us in His Word, the Bible.

You have every right, therefore, to uphold the moral standards you believe, even if your niece doesn’t agree with them. You also have every right to decide who will be a guest in your home. I know some families might disagree and would take a different path in a situation like this, but don’t compromise your own convictions. If you did, your niece might conclude that your moral values aren’t as strong as she thought they were.

At the same time, assure your niece of your love for her, and your concern for her future. As you have the opportunity, explain to her that you aren’t just being old-fashioned. Instead, you know — both by experience and by God’s Word — that the kind of relationship she has with her boyfriend seldom lasts, but often brings only heartache and insecurity.

Above all, urge her to turn to Jesus Christ and discover His perfect plan for her life. God made us, and He knows what is best for us. Jesus’ promise is true: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.
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