This is the inner pocket of the backpack that I daily use in ministry. It’s a good place to store items, but it’s also a good reminder that people will let you down.
As a general rule I don’t carry lots of cash, and when I do, it’s usually kept in my wallet. Once I broke that rule….and lived to regret it. I was going to visit some young people and decided to put my rent inside the inner pocket since the landlords house was on the way to theirs. Because he wasn’t home I decided to simply try again the next day.
The next morning the inner pocket was zipped open……
And the rent money was gone!
After a search of the house to ensure that I did put the money in my bag the only option left was someone stole it.
And sadly I knew exactly who did.
After visiting with the young people the day before a young lady helped me put the books and tracts back inside my backpack. She was someone who always obeyed and never gave me any trouble at all, which was why she was allowed to help me pack the bag. Because she was the only one who touched it, she was the one who stole my rent money.
I immediately went to her house and spoke with the neighbour (a friend of mine) so he would pay attention to whether or not she was spending lots of money. The Lord worked things out that she actually hadn’t gone to school that day so I asked her about the money, and she denied everything. I knew she either took the money, or knew who did because to get to the money you had to open the back part of my backpack, and then zip open another area. Nobody could have done that without my noticing since the backpack is always with me.
To be perfectly honest if it was a few dollars I woudln’t have worried too much about it. But the fact that she had taken rent money (a very good amount) meant something had to be done. I spoke to her school principal and teacher since children buy snacks at school, she would probably try to start spending lots of that money at school. I later had the police come and question her about the money, and the situation was rectified.
This story illustrates the fact that because we all suffer from a sin-nature people will let us down, and we will let them down as well. So we must be prepared for things like that to happen.
This experience though painful helped me develop a biblical response to others sinning against me. It is made up of two parts.
- Bring to repentance
- And restore the relationship
A true response to people letting you down MUST have both parts!
Bringing to repentance is necessary because often when others let us down, they don’t see it as a serious problem. Unfortunately for children in Saint Vincent stealing is just a way of life, often it’s learned by watching their own parents steal! As it’s done habitually over time, taking someones money doesn’t bother them anymore. So it’s absolutely necessary to show them it is a serious problem.
This repentance must be done the right way though
- It cannot be done in anger: I was very calm and spoke in a quiet voice to the young lady about stealing my money
- You must give them a chance to do the right thing: I made sure to explain to her what would happen if she wasn’t honest. First I’d go to her principal, and then go to the police
- You give clear and proper warnings: The day after she stole my money I told her that if she hadn’t given back the money after a certain amount of time, I would bring the police.
Bringing to repentance must have the correct goal. Though I was frustrated by my loss of money, it wasn’t about the money. My goal was to break the sinful habit in her heart, and draw her closer to Christ. The purpose must be to rescue her from future judgement of God and consequences of her actions.
Along with bringing to repentance comes restoration.
Restoring the relationship means that the past sins cannot affect the present and future relationship
- I forgive the individual in my own heart no matter what happens
- Take ownership of my own mistake in the situation (carrying money in my bag)
- I continue to minister to her with Gods Word
- And make sure that know’s i’ve forgiven her
Restoration can take time because they may not believe you’ve forgiven them, or trust needs to be earned again. In these cases it’s important to make things right because it displays the mercy and love of God.
Losing rent money because a child stole it was painful. But it gave an opportunity to display the Holiness of God, as well as His grace in practical ways.