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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again as we conclude our series “Making the Best of a Bad Decision.” Now, if you are with us over this series you’ll discover we talked about such things as when you choose the second best. We had several different episodes on marriage—bad marriages, how to make them better, how to see God in the midst of the conflict. Today, we’re going to talk about how we are able to restore relationships and what our responsibility is to others in terms of restitution. So, this is the last in the series but what I’m interested in doing is not only talking about our relationship with God which was really our emphasis previously but your relationship with others.
There are some of you who have wronged others and you know it, and you owe them an apology. You must ask their forgiveness. Some of you perhaps have been very very hard on your children. One of the reasons maybe that they have walked away from God is because of you. Are you willing to ask their forgiveness if you’ve been at fault because of inconsistent discipline or other issues? And as we talked about in the marriage relationship, when it comes to unfaithfulness it is so important that there be confession and reconciliation, often times with a counselor present, because these issues can become very very difficult.
There’s something else that I want to talk to you about and that is restitution. In Canada in the early 70s, there was a great revival. Hundreds of churches were involved. And the IRS (Canada calls their revenue service by a different name but the equivalent of the IRS) could not figure out why they were receiving so much money that was unsolicited as Christians were doing whatever they needed to do to be totally honest and to be right with God. What a very very important lesson. I think for example of one story. Here’s a man who was a contractor who built houses but he built them with inferior material. He would sell them under one label of material and then when he built them he used inferior material—dozens of houses. Now, the Holy Spirit of God works mightily in his heart and he asks, “What do I have to do to be fully right with God and others? He mortgaged his house. He took all the money that he had in the bank and as best as possible he distributed money to those whom he wronged. Well, what about that man that possibly I’ve told you about who was injured in a hunting accident and actually said, as he filled out the form, that he was injured on the job and so he’s getting workman’s compensation every single month. His Pastor said to him, “You know, every month you’re living in deceit. You should confess that.” He said, “Do you think I’m that foolish?” He said, “If I confess that, I could go to jail.”
Well, let me tell you about another man by the name of John Claypool up in Minnesota. He committed a murder when he was young before he was saved. He got by with it. He married. He had children. He received Christ as Savior. The Holy Spirit of God worked in his heart and he knew he had to make it right. He went to the authorities and he was put in jail, as he confessed to a crime he had committed more than 20 years ago. But this is what he said. He said, “I am more free in prison than I was out of prison when I was living in deceit with that sense of guilt constantly on my conscience.” Could I ask you a question today? What are you willing to do to be fully right with God and right with others that you might have a conscience that is clear of offense? Now, there are some things that we cannot change. I could go into that in more detail but do what God asks you to do no matter the cost.
What’s the bottom line as we leave this series, entitled, “Making the Best of a Bad Decision”? What I want you to carry with you today is simply this: It is never too late to make a good, God-honoring, decision regarding the past. “…and who so covers his sins will not prosper but the person who confesses and forsakes them will receive mercy.” Do what God requires. Thank you so much for joining us for this entire series. It’s been a delight to talk about these things. I trust that it has been a blessing to you. Of course, I want you to join us again next time for a different topic, but as for today you just go with God.