Disaster! I’ve got water coming up between the laminate blocks in the kitchen. It’s drizzling upwards! It turns out that when my new washing machine was fitted a couple of weeks ago, there was a problem in the pipework which didn’t show up at first. It was only when I felt the uneven flooring of the swollen wood, then noticed water appearing from nowhere, that I realised we had a leak. The guy who fitted it does excellent work. I’d recommend him to anyone. How this went pear-shaped is a mystery. But there it is. The leak is sorted, but the floor will need replacing. Who pays? The guy, not long in business, with a young family, plans to put it right. But I can’t stand by and watch him struggle. We both have insurance, but unless it’s a really big amount, it tends to work out cheaper in the long run not to claim.
Restitution. Making good when you’ve messed up. That is what Exodus 22:1-15 is about. Sometimes the wrongdoing was intentional, like theft; often it was neglect, or just plain misadventure; things just going wrong. But whatever, this passage makes it clear we have to clean up our own messes, and pay to put it right. When there was query or dispute then it had to be taken to a judge. No wriggle room. It’s not about the injured party taking the attitude that they’ve been hurt and someone’s got to pay, but about taking responsibility when things have gone wrong on your watch. Because otherwise relationships break down and people seek revenge; society is weakened, hearts harden, and sin escalates.
Whose fault was it when sin first entered the world? Eve’s for taking the first bite of the forbidden fruit? Adam’s for being tempted? The serpent’s for tempting? Or God’s for allowing them the freedom to do it? God took the blame, and he paid the price when Jesus died on the cross. He wanted to give us freedom and he took responsibility for it.
I don’t want my workman to be put in hardship, but I really appreciate his willingness to take responsibility. I guess we’ll work something out between us, and the relationship will stay intact. I am so grateful that Jesus bore the blame for my sin as well as that original one. Because of that, I am able to have a relationship with him. There may be times I need to take the fall for something that’s gone wrong on my watch, at work, in the family, at church or whatever…whether I feel guilty or not. There is a time to take the blame and stump up the cost. Because relationships are what life is all about.