Q: I stole some money from my employer (a doctor) over 40 years ago, and I still feel very guilty over it. I’d pay it back (with interest), but neither he nor his medical practice is still around. What does God want me to do? Or does it make any difference now? — M.B.
A: Yes, it does make a difference — both to you and to others. When we do something wrong, God wants us to do everything we possibly can to make it right — even if many years have passed. The Bible’s command is clear: “Do not defraud or rob your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:13).
Do you remember Jesus’ encounter with a man named Zacchaeus? Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the Roman government, and undoubtedly he had cheated countless people over the years by telling them they owed more money than they actually did — and then keeping some of it for himself. But after he met Jesus, he renounced his crooked ways and vowed to repay whatever he’d stolen — and more. He declared, “If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).
What can you do? First, seek God’s forgiveness — not just for this act, but for all your sins. When Jesus Christ went to the cross, all our sins were placed on him, and he took the judgment that we deserve. Turn to him and accept his gift of forgiveness today.
In addition, do what you can to bring good from your wrongdoing. No, you no longer can repay your employer — but you can make a generous gift to your church or a mission organization that’s involved in medical work. If it’s not possible to repay someone we’ve harmed, the Bible says, “the restitution belongs to the Lord” (Numbers 5:8).
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or visit www.billygraham.org.