If a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord by lying to his neighbor about what was delivered to him for safekeeping … or if he has found what was lost and lies concerning it, and swears falsely … then it shall be, because he has sinned and is guilty, that he shall restore what he has stolen, or the thing which he has extorted, or what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or the lost thing which he found. (Leviticus 6:2-4)
How we treat one another is very important to God. It is so important, in fact, that the instruction to “Love your neighbor as yourself” is considered to be on par with the command to love God with “all of your heart, soul and strength.” Moreover, the one who says he loves God but mistreats his fellow man is a “liar” (1 John 4:20). Consequently, how we treat our neighbor’s property is important as well because, like most everything else, it reveals our heart.
So then, if someone were deal falsely with his neighbor, God considered it to be a trespass against Him. Because God is witness to every situation, anyone who hid the fact that they were in possession of their neighbor’s property were not only robbing from their neighbor, they were, in effect, intentionally lying to God. This was regarded as very serious and, so, for those who had a repentant heart, restitution was in order to the tune of adding 20%. This was not only to discourage a person from doing something like this in the future, it was to repay the victim all the benefit he may have lost during the time the other person was holding on to his property.
In the beginning, Cain lured Abel into a field and murdered him, robbing him of his life. However, the Bible hints that Cain took much more than just the life of one — he actually murdered all the generations that would have come from Abel. This hint comes from the words God used when He said, “Your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.” The Hebrew word translated as “blood” is in the plural form and is thus literally translated as “bloods.” In other words, all those who would have come from Abel cried out to God from the ground. In a fit of jealousy, Cain robbed the world of much more than just one righteous man.
The point, then, is that we need to consider the long-term ramifications of our actions. What we do today, for good or bad, has a far reach and can affect future generations. For example, every one alive owes a debt of gratitude to Noah because, had he not moved with fear and obedience, we would not likely be here. His actions had long term ramifications. In similar fashion, how we treat others, today, may have a lasting affect on them and, consequently, their children and their children’s children. So then, let this truth serve as provocation for us to be aware of how we treat our fellowman. Rather than taking from others, let us be the people who give. As followers of Messiah, we should live sacrificially for the benefit of others and, therefore, bring glory to our Father in heaven.
Blessings and Shalom,