20170725

How To Deal With Someone Else’s Sin

We all sat at the kitchen table, trying to make sense of what happened to us.

“Sending them to jail isn’t the only answer,” my husband, Gene said.

“Dad, you’ve got to be kidding,” my teenage son said. “They have to pay for what they did to us.”

I agreed with my son. The theft of which we were victims would devastate us financially. The culprits had to be punished.

And we had the needed proof. Gene’s suspicions of theft had prompted him to hire detectives. They placed a tiny camera exactly above the cashier in the small retail store we had just opened.

The film in the camera captured the activity that had become a routine. The woman working as the cashier took each cash transaction, and placed it in her pocket. Hours later, her husband walked in the store, received the cash and left.

The $60,000 stolen over months forced us to close the doors and lose the business.

After disbelief, grief and lamenting, we looked for an answer. Gene found it by these steps:

1. Refrain from Anger 
The blatant way in which the theft took place wasn’t a scene from a movie. It was a dark reality for us. How could that have happened? The employees were trusted, treated well during their employment. Yet, they chose to steal from someone who was kind to them. Gene sat in silence. No outburst of anger. No curse words. “I can’t let the enemy win by getting angry.

“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 3:26-27)

2. Avoid Self-Blame 
Re-living the travesty, Gene often thought about what he could have done to avoid the wrong that was done. Maybe he should have been more cautious, less trusting, more rigid in the supervision of his employees. But, after the tormenting thoughts, he made it a priority to fight to keep his peace.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (1 Timothy 6:15)

3. Put things into perspective: 
Our family’s setback was financial. And the money was a great loss. The consequence was profound. But we had to change the focus away from the monetary loss. Instead, we chose to see God’s favor—we still had our family, our health, and more importantly, we had God by our side. Thus, money had to become less important.

“People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

4. Dismiss thoughts of vengeance 
Shortly after the arrest, the prosecutor was ready to begin the process. The sentence would be severe. But would that punishment repay what they had stolen? The couple had two children. And punishing them with a prison sentence would mean putting their children in an emotional trauma. God had to be the one to bring about the right punishment, in His way and in His timing.

“…O LORD Almighty, you who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.” (Jeremiah 11:20)

5. Forgive 
Before the legal process began, Gene spoke to the prosecuting attorney. “I don’t think I’ll be pressing charges,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“I have my own way to resolve this,” Gene said

In Matthew 18, Jesus told the story about the servant whose debt was forgiven. But when someone owed him money, the servant demanded to have what was owed to him. This illustration gave Gene the pattern to follow.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger, his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.’

‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.’” (Matthew 18:33-35)

6. Glorify God 
Gene had a plan. Rather than emphasize the blame, he chose to bring God’s message to them. He called the couple into his office, asked them to sit down and informed them he would not be pressing charges. The woman cried with gratitude. The husband gasped.

Gene then opened the Bible. “I’m a Christian and believe in Jesus, in His Word and His instructions that says we must forgive.” Then turned the Bible toward them. “Can you read this out loud?”

The couple, who practiced a religion contrary to Christianity, read the passage out loud:

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)

[written by Janet Perez Eckles]