Day 3

Compensation for Wrongdoing

from the reading plan

Numbers 5:1-31, Leviticus 5:17-19, Leviticus 6:1-7, 1 John 1:9

If seashells could talk, these two would say, “guilty.”

My little boy came home from preschool with a new nervous energy. His bright blue eyes avoided mine. His chubby fingers couldn’t stop fidgeting. Prompted by the Spirit, I dropped down to his eye level and asked if there was anything he needed to tell me. “No,” he said, a little too quickly. When I asked again, the levee broke. His eyes filled with sudden tears. He reached into the pocket of his little overalls and pulled out two tiny, white shells.

“I took them for Nana,” he confessed.

They were just two little shells, no bigger than his pinky fingernail. No one would notice their absence from the sand and water table at school. Still, I loaded my boy back in his carseat and drove him across town.

“I stole these,” he confessed to his teacher, holding the evidence up high for her to see. “I’m sorry.”

We’re all seashell collectors, aren’t we? Taking what doesn’t belong to us. Coveting what we can’t have. Lying to get what we want. Covering our tracks as we go.

To see God as He really is means accepting two realities—one terrifying and hard to face, the other comforting and hard to accept. First, His holiness prevents Him from tolerating even the “smallest” of sins. As Maker of heaven and earth, even the ways we sin against each other offends Him deeply. This is why Numbers 5:6 says, “Tell the Israelites: When a man or woman commits any sin against another, that person acts unfaithfully toward the Lord and is guilty.” In Leviticus we’re reminded that even unintentional sins make us “guilty before the Lord” (Leviticus 5:19).

Who can measure up to such a standard? Not me. Not you.

Yet in seeing our sin as it really is—a gross violation against the God of the universe—we are able to appreciate the lavishness of His mercy. Yes, wrongs need to be made right. Repentance and restitution are required. But the One we sin against is also able to save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). And the second truth only moves us once we’re aware of the ways our sin affects us. No sin is too small to slip by God, and no sin is too great for His grace.

Yes, there are consequences. As we read about the severity of sin’s punishment, our stomach’s should turn, but don’t leave the seashells in your pocket. Run to Jesus with tear-filled eyes and open palms. Confess. Repent. Give back what you’ve stolen, and bask again in the wonder of God’s amazing grace. The good news is for sinners. The depth of your depravity is exceeded by the abundance of God’s grace.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
—1 John 1:9

Written by Erin Davis

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