Risk of Responsibility
Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for Your unconditional love. Help me to be honest with You and trust You more today.
Read Exodus 22:1-15
 “Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.  “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed;  but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed. “Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft.  If the stolen animal is found alive in their possession-whether ox or donkey or sheep-they must pay back double.  “If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of their own field or vineyard.  “If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.  “If anyone gives a neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, the thief, if caught, must pay back double.  But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges, and they must determine whether the owner of the house has laid hands on the other person’s property.  In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to the other.  “If anyone gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to their neighbor for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no one is looking,  the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the LORD that the neighbor did not lay hands on the other person’s property. The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required.  But if the animal was stolen from the neighbor, restitution must be made to the owner.  If it was torn to pieces by a wild animal, the neighbor shall bring in the remains as evidence and shall not be required to pay for the torn animal.  “If anyone borrows an animal from their neighbor and it is injured or dies while the owner is not present, they must make restitution.  But if the owner is with the animal, the borrower will not have to pay. If the animal was hired, the money paid for the hire covers the loss. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow is accountability shown throughout these verses?
You are probably wondering what these laws about animals and property have to say to us today. Restitution, or paying damages or compensation, is a reflection of the story of the Israelites coming out of Egypt. God promised that they could plunder–and take valuables with them from the Egyptians for having been in slavery (3:22). Here, God talks about the role of trust, honesty and responsibility in that interdependence with one another. Rather than causing us to panic about something like looking after a neighbor’s cat, think about the bigger story here. What does the pattern of behavior in that culture and context say to us about God’s justice and our accountability for our actions? What are the ground rules in our churches? And what does real community look like in terms of our willingness to trust and be trusted? Being trusted carries a risk. In those days, the risk would be to buy a replacement animal. Where you are trusted in your community, what is the risk? What are the positive sides of trusting someone else with your stuff? Or your animal? Or your child?
Am I honest with God and others in my dealings? Do I tell the truth, follow through on my commitments, and hold myself accountable?
Lord, I pray You will help me increase my dependence on You and my interdependence with others today, whatever the risk.
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