Sin has a cost. That’s a concept we should be careful not to forget. If we do committing sin becomes much less of a big deal. (At least in our own minds). I think this is a reason why Israel’s law commanded a thief to give back more than he stole. Think about it: if you steal something, but you give it back, then no harm done, right? Well . . . except you stole something, and there was a price to that. “The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to his neighbor” (Exodus 22:9). You had to give twice as much as you stole to make it right. In some cases even more than that.
When you really understand sin has a cost you’re done with cheap repentance. Imagine this common scene: one sibling whacks another (accidentally or otherwise) and then mom says: “you tell your brother you’re sorry!” So the offender mumbles out “sorry” and then stomps off. That is really cheap repentance. A child who is con-science-stricken over their offense will take much more time and effort making it right. I’m talking hugs, offers to play whatever the other kid wants, that sort of thing.
Once David did something to offend God. To remedy this wrong he was told to go make an offering on someone else’s property. The owner of this property was also very eager to make things right with God, so he offered David a means of cheap repentance. He was willing to give David the land, his oxen, his farming equipment . . . basically everything he owned. But David refused the offer. He said: “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). It seems God was pleased with this attitude. That very site later became the location of the temple.
When you do something wrong don’t try to get out of the situation as cheaply and painlessly as possible. God gave Jesus to suffer and die for our sin. What a costly sacrifice! How can we try to get away with the minimum when God gave it all? How could we offer to God only what costs us nothing? No, if you wrong someone make every effort to make it right. Give back twice as much as you took. You could even pull a Zacchaeus and give back four times the amount. Then you will be honoring Jesus by acknowledging that sin has a price.
Camden Avenue church of Christ