The beauty of the scriptures, for me at least, is the vision caught as we read about how God has historically shown up for his people. When my present day world feels scary and chaotic, it usually doesn’t take long for me to find something in the scriptures that can reframe my perspective. This is not only useful, it is essential. When I get off-kilter and take a myopic view on life – I can get pretty paranoid and freaked out. When this happens, I start acting up and acting out in ways that make life more difficult for those I love. Today, I look at this verse and have some thoughts that ground me.
Tell the Israelites: When a man or a woman commits any sin against anyone else, thus breaking faith with the Lord, that person becomes guilty. Such persons will confess the sin they have done. Each will make payment for his guilt, add one-fifth more, and give it to the injured party. Numbers 5:6-7 CEB
We spend so much time pointing out the faults of others. Why? Where is the benefit to anyone? Is it a way to distract us from our own wrongdoing? Do we delight in picking on others? I don’t get it, even as I am prone to practicing it myself.
In the book of Numbers I find relief. It gives us provision for restoration, providing a pathway back to peace. But as usual, we must step up and do our part. What is our part?
Well, we tell the truth when we commit a sin against another person. Have you noticed how anytime a weakness is highlighted about one political candidate or another they and their handlers tend to try to turn the tables on the other candidate’s weaknesses? I swear, I would vote for anyone who took the perspective – and required their team to do the same – that when a shortcoming of theirs was mentioned they said the following, “That is a shortcoming. In fact, it is such a character defect that it resulted in me misbehaving in the following ways:_________________. Here’s what I’ve done to make restitution_______________________. Do you have any suggestions for how I could make further changes?” Lord, what a breath of fresh air that would be. And why not? We have to assume that everything we say is being videotaped anyway!
This is the principle taught in Numbers, and although I am not holding my breath that our politicians are going to model this for us, here’s why I am encouraged: there are plenty of people in my own community who live like this every day. And that inspires me.