““Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If any of the people—men or women—betray the Lord by doing wrong to another person, they are guilty. They must confess their sin and make full restitution for what they have done, adding an additional 20 percent and returning it to the person who was wronged.”
I haven’t knelt on blueberries very often.
But when I do, I do it in style.
I can tell by the tone in which you are reading this missive that I owe you some sort of explanation.
You know when you are tired, and trying to hurry, and things go amuck??
Of course you do.
That was me, at supper time.
I had just hauled in groceries, I was running late, and the pot I wanted to cook the supper soup in still sat dirty in the sink.
I had set a pint of blueberries in the fridge with a few other items, shoved the door shut, and was in the act of quickly turning to the sink so I could rinse the soup pot and get started on supper before Brent got home.
Except, as I turned, I bumped the blueberries.
Um – yeah. They spilled.
They rolled hither and yon, all over my dirty kitchen floor.
I don’t think I could have sent them scurrying in every direction so thoroughly if I had shot them out of a cannon.
And what went through my head?
My teacher voice, telling my littles to clean up their own messes, fix their own mistakes. That mistakes are just times to learn and grow in independence. That learning to fix their mistakes is like doing their own laundry.
So, I’m on all fours chasing blueberries stubbornly determined to enjoy their freedom, trying not to wail in frustration.
Squish! Squash! Poppity-pop!
I can’t make this stuff up.
Now I have blueberry-stained knees, an army of recalcitrant blueberries, and no soup.
What a mess.
Back in the day, God spelled out to Moses these ‘laundry’ instructions, and they amount to this: if you mess up, clean it up.
Some mistakes don’t hurt others – they are just mistakes. I’d say my blueberry fiasco falls into that territory. Annoying, but just a mistake. No biggie.
Then, there are personal sins – these are between us and God. We recognize the mess we’ve made and do our own laundry – admit that we broke the rules, confess what we did, and accept God’s ‘grace soap’.
But other mistakes hurt others.
Those are harder to fix.
The Old Testament standard was to pay back whatever was lost or taken or ruined, plus 20%. That was to make sure the person who was wronged was appeased and the relationship protected – a nice, clean laundry basket.
But notice who really is hurt when we sin against a fellow human.
This verse says when I hurt someone, I am actually betraying God. Since that other human was created in the image of God, my hurting him or her hurts the God of heaven.
Are you taking responsibility for any actions that have caused others or God harm?
Or are you stubbornly mucking around in your mess and causing even more damage?
Once I’ve washed my stained pants, they will be useable again. I’ll forget all about those ridiculous blueberries.
When I acknowledge any damage I’ve done to others, confess it, and do what I can to make restitution, my conscience will be clean. I will have done my own laundry, and cleaned up my own mess.
God in His grace and mercy has taken the responsibility of washing me clean as I confess my failings.
What a good God…
Keep doing laundry with me?
Father, You highly value Your people, and want us to treat others with care and respect. Help us to make progress in cleaning up our own messes and confessing and making things right when we offend You. Bless us as we do our ‘laundry’!! Amen.