What We Did
The eighth commandment
Exodus 20.15; Deuteronomy 5.19
“You shall not steal.”
“If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution.”
We made everyone bear the burden of the sins of some.
It is a basic teaching of the Law of God, and of all Scripture, that each person should be held accountable for his or her own transgressions. Granted, those transgressions can sometimes have damaging effects on others – as when fields were unlawfully grazed or standing grain torched by a careless neighbor’s fire. The sins of others will inflict harm on the society as a whole; we never sin alone (Ps. 73.10-15). In such cases, the Law of God provides that the suffering of the innocent shall be mitigated by the restitution imposed on the guilty. That may not be much comfort in some cases, especially when the sin of the guilty leaves the innocent with irreparable economic damage or bodily harm. But the Law of God never promised it would eradicate sin and its effects, merely control them as far as can be done in a society of sinners. In the present economic “downturn” we did the opposite of what God’s Law requires. Instead of making the guilty pay the consequences of their selfishness, we made everybody pay, even some who have not been born yet, as we sought to rescue the guilty from their foolishness and sin. The only consequences they have had to bear are those inflicted by themselves. Meanwhile, everybody is required to pony-up to make sure that that the crash landing of those who precipitated this mess – a few notable white collar types excepted – should be as soft as possible.
Is it unkind to allow people to bear the consequences of their sinful behavior? Why, or why not?
“In the Gates” is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore
T. M. Moore is editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).
Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001,2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Editor’s note: The use of a translation other than the Authorised Version in an article does not constitute an endorsement in whole or in part by The Christian Observer.
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