Luke 17:3 Ministries Inc
Sunday, March 26, 2017
For Adult Daughters of Controlling or Abusive Birth-Families
AUGUST 2010 Newsletter
LUKE 17:3 Ministries
for Adult Daughters
of Controlling or Abusive Birth-families
A sisterhood for those who seek support in developing self-esteem, setting boundaries and limits, forgiveness, Godly confrontation, recognizing and cutting ties with reprobates, healing, and rejoicing in the peace and love of
the Lord, our Father
Take heed to yourselves. If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him……..Luke 17:3
VOLUME 8, ISSUE 3 AUGUST 2010
Luke 17: 3 is the scripture often misquoted, usually by an abuser or his enabler, when he tells you that the Bible says “Forgive and Forget”, or that you must forgive him because you are a Christian. However, Jesus is very specific when he tells us to rebuke the sinner, and if he repents, to forgive him. Have you rebuked your abuser, and has he or she repented?
THE ONLY FORM OF ABUSE STILL CONDONED BY SOCIETY. THE ONLY ABUSE IN WHICH THE VICTIM IS CRITICIZED OR ABANDONED FOR TRYING TO PROTECT HERSELF. CHILD ABUSE THAT DIDN’T END WHEN ADULTHOOD BEGAN…THE CONTINUING ABUSE OF GROWN CHILDREN BY THEIR PARENTS.
If you have ever experienced Adult Child Abuse by a parent, sibling, or other relative, We Welcome You!
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If so, please contact:
Rev. Renee Pittelli
Luke 17:3 Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 684
Chestertown, NY 12817
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Please ask about our Luke 17:3 Ministry in Tennessee, founded by Rev. Denise Rossignol.
Thank you Father!
KNOWING WHEN IT’S TIME TO WALK AWAY
By Rev. Renee
In order to decide whether to stay or walk away, it is important to analyze exactly what the chances are that our relationship will ever be the loving relationship we deserve. To help us find a clue to our future with our abusive or controlling relative, we need to objectively analyze the past and the present with this person. Experience is a great teacher. If we refuse to learn from past experience, then we need to seek counseling and find out why we are so resistant to the truth. Here are some questions we need to consider when analyzing our relationship:
Concerning the relationship itself:
Am I benefiting from this relationship, or is it a one-way street?
Is it mutually beneficial, or am I doing all the giving? What exactly is the other person bringing to the party?
Am I enjoying this relationship?
Is it mutually respectful?
Continued on Page 2……..
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death….2 Corinthians 7: 9-10 KJV.
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent….Revelation 3:14-19.
Continued from Page 1…….
Do I look forward to being with this person, or do I dread it?
How does this relationship impact my quality-of-life? Is it enhancing my life or detracting from it? What am I getting out of this?
Is this relationship good for me? Do I feel good about it? Do I receive love, care and nurturing when I need it?
Does it make me feel good about myself, or does it make me feel as if I have no self-respect because I put up with such poor treatment?
Is this relationship affecting my health?
Is it affecting my ability to concentrate, or my job?
Is it affecting my relationship with the Lord? Is it causing me to sin in reaction to the other person?
Have I ever lost sleep over this relationship?
Is it affecting my enjoyment of my own life, my children or my time with them?
Are holidays, birthdays, and other family events often ruined for me?
Is having this person in my life causing problems in my marriage?
Is having this person in my life causing my children to be upset, confused or affected in any way?
Am I setting a good or bad example for my children by having contact with this person? Is having this person in my life sending a message to my children that we accept and tolerate offensive behavior, betrayal, abuse, disloyalty, dishonesty, etc? Is this person a good influence on my children, or a bad influence?
Is this a generally positive or mostly negative relationship?
Am I the only one interested in working on and improving our relationship?
Is my relative just as interested in keeping our relationship together as I am? Is she willing to do whatever it takes to have a positive relationship with me? Is she just not interesting in putting anything into our relationship? Or does she go to the opposite extreme, becoming angry, or threatening to disown me or stop speaking to me if I complain?
If I were to be totally honest with myself, do I really believe that this person is ever going to change? Do I really feel that this relationship will ever be any different, or is that just wishful thinking on my part?
Assuming nothing ever changes, do I see myself going on like this for the rest of my life?
Concerning your relative:
Do I feel happy in this person’s presence?
Can I relax, enjoy myself, and be myself around this person, or do I always have to be on guard?
Is she critical, belligerent, manipulative, or malicious, or is she pleasant to be around?
Do I trust this person?
Is this person honorable?
Is this person Godly and righteous?
Is this person kind or cruel?
Is this person an addict? Does she have an alcohol, drug, or gambling problem? Is she willing to get help, or not?
Is this person a control-freak or power-crazy? Does she play well with others? Does she have problems in her other relationships?
Am I afraid of this person? Am I afraid to anger this person? Am I afraid to speak my mind or share my thoughts around this person?
Do I find myself clamming up around this person because it seems that no matter what I say, it starts an argument?
Does this person try to degrade, humiliate, or sabotage me?
Does she undermine my self-esteem or self-confidence?
Does this person ever criticize my weight, appearance, personality, or intelligence? Does she ever call me names?
Does this person expect me to obey her even though I am an adult?
Does she raise her voice to me, or does she address me respectfully?
Does this person demand time or attention on a regular basis, or does she understand that I have another life?
Does this person show any gratitude or appreciation for what I do, or does she believe I owe it to her?
Does this person disrespect me, degrade me, pick fights with me, or criticize me in public or in front of my children or other relatives?
If this person has a problem with me, does she bring it up with respect and goodwill, and in private, or does she bring it up in front of an audience so she can embarrass me?
Do I feel that this person truly loves me, or is only using me? Is this person willing to do for me everything that I am willing to do for her?
Does this person think she is entitled to special treatment? Does she think that her needs, wants, thoughts, or feelings are more important than anyone else’s?
Does she always manage to be the center of attention? Is she a drama-queen? Is every conversation about her? Does she LISTEN as much as she talks?
When I am in this person’s presence, when I am anticipating being with this person, or after I have been with this person, do I feel joyful, relaxed, and at peace, or do I feel upset, anxious, nervous, stressed, irritable, depressed, aggravated, or confused?
Do I avoid or dread answering the phone when I think it might be this person calling?
Does this person cause me to be angry or to lose my temper?
Do I have to watch everything I say around this person?
Before, after, or during the time I spend with this person, do I have any physical symptoms, such as headaches, back or neck pain, upset stomach, trouble sleeping? Do I feel my blood pressure going up and my stomach in a knot every time I have to be in her presence?
Has this person ever admitted she was wrong?
Is this a reasonable or unreasonable person?
Is this a rational person who can have a normal discussion, or are her responses nonsensical and irrational?
Does this person take responsibility for her behavior, or does she deny, lie, cover-up, or blame other people?
Has this person ever apologized for anything? Was the apology sincere or meaningless? (see the article Meaningful Vs. Meaningless Apologies on our site)
Is this person a troublemaker? Does she cause problems and instigate fights between other people?
Is this person a bully? Is she hostile, belligerent, nasty, and always looking for a fight?
Does this person normally show any concern for the feelings of others, or is she often rude, insulting, offensive, and obnoxious?
Is this person selfish and self-centered? Is it always all about her? Or is she usually generous and concerned about others? Does she have empathy for other people?
Is she a giver or a taker? Does she use or exploit others? Does she serve others? If she serves, does she serve joyfully or grudgingly?
Is this person humble, or is she prideful, arrogant, or boastful?
Is this person jealous or envious?
Does this person put on a phony front? Is she insincere? Does she worry about what outsiders will think while not caring what her family thinks?
Is she a gossip? Did she ever badmouth me or lie about me?
Has she ever tried to turn other people against me?
Has she ever betrayed me?
Has she ever stolen from me?
Can I believe this person, or is she a pathological liar?
Is this person rigid and inflexible, or is she open to change and new ideas?
Is this person’s unacceptable behavior just an occasional fluke, or a firmly entrenched pattern?
Looking back, has this person ever acted in my best interests? Or does she only act in her own best interests, with no regard for what is best for me?
Does this person have a truly loving heart, or is she really unloving? Do I realize that while she may SAY she loves me, she doesn’t ACT like she loves me?
Concerning my efforts to resolve our differences:
Have I rebuked this person, and what was her reaction?
Did she take responsibility? Was she genuinely accountable?
Did she apologize and make an effort to change her ways, or did she become defensive, deny, lie, cover-up, or blame me or someone else for her behavior?
If I have not rebuked her, why not? Am I too afraid of her reaction to speak my mind?
Have I set any limits with this person yet? Again, if I haven’t, why not?
Do I avoid confronting this person and speaking the truth in love because deep down I don’t really believe anything will change, she will only become angry and insulted, and I will be involved in a big argument for nothing? If so, am I willing to spend the rest of my life silently enduring this person’s abuse?
Is this person willing to hear me out and listen to what I have to say?
Is this person willing to admit her part in our problems, or is she stubborn as a mule?
Is she willing to acknowledge that at least half of our difficulties are her fault, or does she refuse to accept any responsibility at all and just blame me for everything?
When I try to discuss our problems, does she change the subject, overreact, confuse the issue, pout, cry, pretend that I offended her, or do anything else to get me off the track or to force me to give up without actually resolving anything?
Has she respected my limits or completely ignored them?
Does she refuse to take me seriously? Does she tell me I’m too sensitive or I take everything the wrong way? Does she disregard my feelings or anything I say?
Is this person willing to make any changes in her behavior? Has she actually done so, or is she just stringing me along and telling me what she thinks I want to hear?
Has she reacted with anger to having limits set on her behavior?
Has she stopped, continued, or even escalated her unacceptable behavior after being rebuked? Is she doing it more than ever?
If I try to pull back a bit and limit my time with this person rather than just ending the entire relationship, does this person respect my limits and try to modify her hurtful behavior, or does she escalate and become more demanding than ever- as if she was purposefully trying to drive me away?
Have I found that trying to enforce boundaries with this person, no matter how respectful and calm I try to be, only results in her behavior becoming more outrageous than ever?
Rather than try and cooperate to resolve our problems, does this person make a mountain out of a molehill, turning a polite request for a change in behavior into a huge argument, threatening to disown me, etc.?
Does this person operate under the idea that the best defense is a good offense?
Does this person take offense at my efforts to limit her hurtful behavior? Does she become insulted, angry, or try and turn it around and make me feel guilty for even trying to talk it over with her?
Does this person seem remorseful and interested in making amends? Has she at least made a sincere effort to change her offensive behavior? Or is her attitude more like “ Hey, this is how I am- take it or leave it?” (In which case you may have to leave it)
Has this person made any attempts to undo the damage she might have done to me? Has she tried to make it right?
Am I willing to accept that if I stay in this relationship, I will never be treated with dignity and respect and nothing will ever change?
Is there anything else I can do, or that I am willing to do, to have a relationship with this person (one that includes treating me with dignity and respect), or have I pretty much run out of ideas?
Now that I have confronted this person and heard her reaction, do I still feel it is possible to salvage this relationship, or am I just wasting my time? (Proverbs 23:9)
The answers to these questions will point out patterns of behavior and allow us to see just how firmly entrenched, and therefore unlikely to change, they may be. Some of these questions concern the magnitude and seriousness of the abusive behavior. Others indicate a total disregard for you or for trying to have a loving and peaceful relationship. Still others allow us to assess the person’s maturity and willingness to be accountable for their actions, accept responsibility and make some changes.
Sometimes we stay because we think there is a chance things will change. We need to ask ourselves what exactly are the chances this person will change? It may be possible, but is it likely? It might happen, and it might not. For that matter, our relative may come to her senses AFTER we’ve left and change her ways- nothing is stopping her from doing that, either.
Probably the only way of judging whether there actually is a realistic possibility of our relative changing her ways is to think back on our past experience with this person. We need to ask ourselves four important basic questions:
Does this person EVER admit it when she is wrong?
Does this person EVER apologize (SINCERELY apologize)?
Have I EVER seen this person change her behavior after being told it was hurtful or upsetting to others?
Has this person EVER showed true remorse or tried to make amends for anything she’s done?
If our relative has never done any of these things, she is not likely to start now. And if she very rarely or grudgingly does one of these things, she is also unlikely to make a sincere effort to modify her behavior.
Although hope springs eternal, experience tells us that certain people are not going to change-not ever! That is reality, and we need to deal with it. The Bible very clearly tells us that evil people do not change: CAN THE ETHIOPIAN CHANGE HIS SKIN OR THE LEOPARD ITS SPOTS? NEITHER CAN YOU DO GOOD WHO ARE ACCUSTOMED TO DOING EVIL….Jeremiah 13:23.
These are Jesus’ instructions to us for rebuking a brother: IF YOUR BROTHER SINS AGAINST YOU, GO AND SHOW HIM HIS FAULT, JUST BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU. IF HE LISTENS TO YOU, YOU HAVE WON YOUR BROTHER OVER. BUT IF HE WILL NOT LISTEN, TAKE ONE OR TWO OTHERS ALONG, SO THAT EVERY MATTER MAY BE ESTABLISHED BY THE TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES. IF HE REFUSES TO LISTEN TO THEM, TELL IT TO THE CHURCH; AND IF HE REFUSES TO LISTEN EVEN TO THE CHURCH, TREAT HIM AS YOU WOULD A PAGAN OR A TAX COLLECTOR…Matthew 18:15-17. In other words, shun him and have nothing to do with him.
Jesus also tells us: AND IF ANY PLACE WILL NOT WELCOME YOU OR LISTEN TO YOU, SHAKE THE DUST OFF YOUR FEET WHEN YOU LEAVE, AS A TESTIMONY AGAINST THEM…Mark 6:11
One of my favorite Scriptures is Matthew 7:6, which is also Jesus himself speaking to us:
GIVE NOT THAT WHICH IS HOLY UNTO THE DOGS. NEITHER CAST YE YOUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, LEST THEY TRAMPLE THEM UNDER THEIR FEET, AND TURN AGAIN AND REND YOU….Matthew 7:6KJV. Abusers take our love for them and use it against us. The Lord instructs us not to give our best to those who don’t appreciate it and will only turn on us instead of loving us in return.
Sometimes when a victim leaves a relationship, it serves as a wake-up call for the abuser, who might then sincerely apologize and change her behavior, enabling the relationship to be restored. One such story is told in the two books by Beverly Engel, “Divorcing A Parent” and “The Power Of Apology”. The author wrote these books about her relationship with her own mother. She writes about her own decision to divorce her mother, her mother’s genuine remorse, their successful reconciliation and progression into a new relationship of mutual respect. So, sometimes the painful decision to get out leads to a positive conclusion in which everybody can be happy.
Unfortunately this is not always the case. Many people, myself included, choose to limit their time with their abusive relative rather than cut off all contact. Some people decide to take a “vacation” of several months from their relatives to see if they can reconcile the relationship down the road from a fresh perspective. This also helps the victim to wean herself away from the abuser gradually, and to learn that she can, indeed, live just fine without him. It can increase her self-esteem, independence, and growth. But abusers do not usually go silently off into the night. Most abusers, when they realize that their victim is pulling away to protect herself, become even more demanding and outrageous in their behavior. They will escalate the disagreement into a full-blown battle, and their abusive behavior will continue and get worse. It is almost as if they are challenging or daring you to get out. This is what my parents did with me.
Because I still loved my parents when this happened, I still did not break off all contact with them, but I did curtail my time with them even further, because they made it necessary. At that point, my mother saved me the trouble of breaking off our relationship and stopped speaking to me, instead. This is often a control-freak’s last ditch attempt to stay in control of the relationship- they want to be the one to end the relationship just to prove that they are still calling the shots. They would rather dump you than have you dump them- it’s a matter of pride! As they see it, this is the only choice, because actually changing their behavior in order to keep you in their life is never an option in their minds.
One word of warning- don’t be surprised if your relative then lies to others about what happened and tells the rest of the family that you stopped speaking to her! This is also what my mother did. You will need to be prepared for the disapproval others think they have the right to show you. For articles on this, please see our website section The Silent Partner and The Silent Majority.
In my case, when my mother disowned me, I made the decision to leave well enough alone and simply do nothing further. BUT IF THE UNBELIEVER LEAVES, LET HIM DO SO. A BELIEVING MAN OR WOMAN IS NOT BOUND IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES; GOD HAS CALLED US TO LIVE IN PEACE….1 Corinthians 7:15. I felt very strongly that the Lord had removed me from a very toxic situation that he no longer wanted me to be a part of. So I did not call her or make any attempt to get back together. I figured that she had been the one to end our relationship- if she had a change of heart, then she needed to be the one to restore it. I was heartbroken at first, but eventually I became at peace with it. And after a while, I felt relief, joy, and profound gratitude. I understood that my Father was protecting me, and that he loved me so much that he had taken this burden from me. This testimony helped me write the article “Who’s Your Daddy?” in the Our Real Father section on our site.
In Romans 12:18, we are told, “IF IT IS POSSIBLE, AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, LIVE AT PEACE WITH EVERYONE.” Unfortunately, there are some people with whom it is NOT POSSIBLE to live in peace. God recognizes that there are times when it is NOT possible, and Romans 12:18 is his teaching to us when we find ourselves in that situation. There are some cases in which we do everything that is in our control to live in peace, but it DOES NOT DEPEND SOLELY ON US. It takes two to tango. A peaceful, loving, healthy relationship is NOT POSSIBLE if only ONE person is interested in making it happen and willing to do what it takes. Romans 12:18 frees us from the bondage of thinking that we must stay in a relationship, no matter what the other person does to us. Once we have done what we could to live in peace, we are free to walk away. We are only responsible for doing our part, but if the other person is not doing their part, it is time for us to move on and live the life of peace, joy, and freedom in Christ that God intended for us as his children.
SEE TO IT THAT NO ONE TAKES YOU CAPTIVE THROUGH HOLLOW AND DECEPTIVE PHILOSOPHY, WHICH DEPENDS ON HUMAN TRADITION AND THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THIS WORLD RATHER THAN ON CHRIST. FOR IN CHRIST ALL THE FULLNESS OF THE DEITY LIVES IN BODILY FORM, AND YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN FULLNESS IN CHRIST, WHO IS THE HEAD OVER EVERY POWER AND AUTHORITY….Colossians 2:8-10NIV
THE SPIRIT OF THE SOVEREIGN LORD IS ON ME, BECAUSE THE LORD HAS ANOINTED ME TO PREACH GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO BIND UP THE BROKENHEARTED, TO PROCLAIM FREEDOM FOR THE CAPTIVES AND RELEASE FROM DARKNESS FOR THE PRISONERS….Isaiah 61: 1
the wisdom of proverbs
The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion….Proverbs 28:1.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him….James 1:5
THE 3 RS OF ACCOUNTABILITY:
REPENTANCE, RESTITUTION, AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
By Rev. Renee
Being accountable for one’s behavior is part of growing up and being a mature adult. It is a fallacy that God is all forgiving, and when unrepentant offenders claim that “God forgives me,” they are wrong. God does not forgive us until and unless we confess our sins and repent (change our ways). The Lord holds us accountable for our behavior, and he instructs us to hold each other accountable as well.
Accountability consists of three parts, Repentance, Restitution, and Personal Responsibility:
REPENTANCE: Remorse, contrition, or self-reproach for what one has done or failed to do; making a change for the better as a result of remorse; a turning from one’s sinful ways; feeling of such regret for past conduct as to change one’s mind regarding it, atonement; forsaking of sin; the feeling or act in which one tries to right a wrong, it always includes the admission of guilt, and also at least one of: a solemn promise or resolve not to repeat the offense, or an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.
When we rebuke, set limits on, or break off our relationship with an unrepentant offender, she may shrug and tell us, “I know God forgives me,” the implication being that the Lord forgives her even if we don’t. But guess what? She is WRONG. The Lord NEVER forgives unrepentant evildoers. He REQUIRES that sinners humble themselves and come to him for forgiveness, and that they show remorse and change their ways. The Old Testament is full of examples of the Lord’s wrath and punishment towards the Israelites every time they sinned against him and worshipped false idols, which they did over and over again. Many times God lost his patience with them and they suffered the well-deserved consequences. He only forgave them when they asked for forgiveness (apologized), destroyed their false idols and returned to worshipping him. In other words, when they STOPPED doing what offended him. The Lord does NOT forgive those who choose to continue sinning against him, and he does not expect us to forgive those who continue sinning against us (Luke 17:3). In fact, he tells us to have nothing further to do with them (Titus 3:10-11, Matthew 18: 15-17, 2 Timothy 3: 2-5). It is absurd to think that God requires more of us than he himself is willing to do.
A mature adult is willing to be accountable for any distress or pain he has caused other people. A sincere apology, genuine remorse, and a determination to STOP doing whatever is hurtful to others is known as repentance. Repentance is “turning one’s life around” and “turning from one’s sinful ways.” It is not a mere apology. Repentance is a constructive action. It is CHANGE.
RESTITUTION: the act of making amends; the act of returning or restoring to someone what is his; restoration of a thing to its proper owner or its original state; reparation for injury or damage ; a balancing of the accounts ; compensation for loss, damage or injury; the act of returning or restoring to a person some thing or right of which he has been unjustly deprived, restitution is made by restoring a specific thing taken away or lost; the act of making good, or of giving an equivalent for any loss, damage, or injury; indemnification.
Restitution is an unfamiliar and often uncomfortable concept to many of us. It comes as quite a surprise to offenders to be told that they are expected to undo the damage that they did. It often comes as a surprise even to the victims, who for some reason don’t really believe they have the right to expect someone who did them wrong to fix what he did.
An important part of being accountable is making amends. Making amends includes “making it up to” the one who was hurt. It means undoing as much of the damage that you did as possible. It means making every effort to make the victim whole again, just like she was, mentally, physically, and emotionally, before the offender did whatever he did to her. It might include making her whole financially- the offender paying back anything he borrowed, stole, or scammed the victim out of. It might include restoring the victim’s reputation if he gossiped or lied about her, which would mean swallowing his pride, personally going to each person he gossiped or lied to, and setting the record straight. The idea is that the victim should not have to suffer the consequences of the abuser’s actions. The abuser needs to be willing to suffer the consequences of his own actions in order to make it right for the victim.
Some damage is so big it seems irreversible, and indeed it might be. But there is always some restitution that the offender can offer. If an offender has verbally, psychologically, emotionally, physically, or sexually abused a victim, she may have been so damaged by him that a way of making her whole does not easily present itself. There doesn’t seem to be much an abuser could do to make it up to her. In such a case, restitution may consist of something like paying for the victim’s counseling or therapy. The abuser can and should express a willingness to do whatever it takes to help the victim heal and recover. This would include offering to do anything the victim’s therapist might suggest. The abuser might be asked to go to anger management, enroll in an Abuser Program, get therapy himself, attend counseling sessions with the victim, or allow the victim to express her anger and pain while not becoming defensive or angry in return.
In the Bible, the Lord instructs us to make restitution to those we have wronged. The Biblical model for restitution is returning what we have taken from another, and ADDING to it as well. In Leviticus 6:1-7, we are taught,: THE LORD SAID TO MOSES: “IF ANYONE SINS AND IS UNFAITHFUL TO THE LORD BY DECEIVING HIS NEIGHBOR ABOUT SOMETHING ENTRUSTED TO HIM OR LEFT IN HIS CARE OR STOLEN, OR IF HE CHEATS HIM, OR IF HE FINDS LOST PROPERTY AND LIES ABOUT IT, OR IF HE SWEARS FALSELY, OR IF HE COMMITS ANY SUCH SIN THAT PEOPLE MAY DO- WHEN HE THUS SINS AND BECOMES GUILTY, HE MUST RETURN WHAT HE HAS STOLEN OR TAKEN BY EXTORTION, OR WHAT WAS ENTRUSTED TO HIM, OR THE LOST PROPERTY HE FOUND, OR WHATEVER IT WAS HE SWORE FALSELY ABOUT. HE MUST MAKE RESTITUTION IN FULL, ADD A FIFTH OF THE VALUE TO IT, AND GIVE IT ALL TO THE OWNER ON THE DAY HE PRESENTS HIS GUILT OFFERING. AND AS A PENALTY, HE MUST BRING TO THE PRIEST, THAT IS, TO THE LORD, HIS GUILT OFFERING…..AND HE WILL BE FORGIVEN FOR ANY OF THESE THINGS THAT MADE HIM GUILTY.” Notice also that this passage specifies restitution not just for theft of material goods, but for offenses such as DECEPTION, SWEARING FALSELY and ANY OTHER SUCH SINS.
This passage illustrates yet another very important point. It is all too common for an offender to claim that she has confessed her wrongdoing and repented TO GOD; therefore, no further action is required on her part (especially when it comes to repenting to and making it up to the VICTIM). But the Bible makes a distinction between repenting to God, and repenting to the victim. BOTH are requirements for forgiveness, not just one. If one repents to God of one’s sin against God, then God will forgive her. But if an offender desires forgiveness for offenses against another person, then she must make amends to her victim IN ADDITION to repenting to God. An offender who does not repent of her hurtful behavior TO THE VICTIM is NOT entitled to forgiveness.
In Numbers 5:5-8, the Lord again makes it crystal clear that restitution, INCLUDING INTEREST, must be made TO THE VICTIM. Only if the victim or his relatives cannot be found, will restitution to the Lord alone, be acceptable. THE LORD SAID TO MOSES, “SAY TO THE ISRAELITES: ‘WHEN A MAN OR WOMAN WRONGS ANOTHER IN ANY WAY AND SO IS UNFAITHFUL TO THE LORD, THAT PERSON IS GUILTY AND MUST CONFESS THE SIN HE HAS COMMITTED. HE MUST MAKE FULL RESTITUTION FOR HIS WRONG, ADD ONE FIFTH TO IT AND GIVE IT ALL TO THE PERSON HE HAS WRONGED. BUT IF THAT PERSON HAS NO CLOSE RELATIVE TO WHOM RESTITUTION CAN BE MADE FOR THE WRONG, THE RESTITUTION BELONGS TO THE LORD AND MUST BE GIVEN TO THE PRIEST, ALONG WITH THE RAM WITH WHICH ATONEMENT IS MADE FOR HIM……Numbers 5: 5-8. Again, notice that restitution is expected for ANY wrong done to another.
IF A MAN STEALS AN OX OR A SHEEP AND SLAUGHTERS IT OR SELLS IT, HE MUST PAY BACK FIVE HEAD OF CATTLE FOR THE OX AND FOUR SHEEP FOR THE SHEEP…..Exodus 22:1
A THIEF MUST CERTAINLY MAKE RESTITUTION, BUT IF HE HAS NOTHING, HE MUST BE SOLD TO PAY FOR HIS THEFT. IF THE STOLEN ANIMAL IS FOUND ALIVE IN HIS POSSESSION- WHETHER OX OR DONKEY OR SHEEP- HE MUST PAY BACK DOUBLE. IF A MAN GRAZES HIS LIVESTOCK IN A FIELD OR VINEYARD AND THEY STRAY AND THEY GRAZE IN ANOTHER MAN’S FIELD, HE MUST MAKE RESTITUTION FROM THE BEST OF HIS OWN FIELD OR VINEYARD. IF A FIRE BREAKS OUT AND SPREADS INTO THORNBUSHES SO THAT IT BURNS SHOCKS OF GRAIN,….THE ONE WHO STARTED THE FIRE MUST MAKE RESTITUTION. IF A MAN GIVES HIS NEIGHBOR SILVER OR GOODS FOR SAFEKEEPING AND THEY ARE STOLEN FROM THE NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE, THE THIEF, IF HE IS CAUGHT, MUST PAY BACK DOUBLE.….Exodus 22:3- 7
……..BOTH PARTIES ARE TO BRING THEIR CASES BEFORE THE JUDGES. THE ONE WHOM THE JUDGES DECLARE GUILTY MUST PAY BACK DOUBLE TO HIS NEIGHBOR…..Exodus 22:9
YET IF HE IS CAUGHT, HE MUST PAY SEVENFOLD, THOUGH IT COSTS HIM ALL THE WEALTH OF HIS HOUSE…..Proverbs 6:31
Many offenders simply have no understanding of, or just don’t care about, the pain their behavior causes for others. Often the only way they can even begin to understand or to empathize with their victim is to take some of the pain caused by their own actions back onto their own shoulders, and off the shoulders of their victim. Although it may not be easy and can be quite uncomfortable, an accountable adult will pay the price for what he did, instead of making someone else pay the price. It is only right that an offender suffer the consequences of his own actions rather than someone else having to suffer the consequences of his actions. Internalizing the idea that our actions do indeed have consequences may help an abuser to think twice before he hurts someone again. Having to undo the damage you’ve done is difficult, embarrassing, and humbling. Learning to think first before you open your mouth or do something selfish or hurtful is a lesson well-learned, and making restitution for the things you do is a great teacher.
God REQUIRES that restitution be made to victims by those who have victimized them. In specifying that an offender must ADD EXTRA (one-fifth, double, sevenfold, etc.) to what they have taken, he REQUIRES those who have harmed others TO GO ABOVE AND BEYOND in repairing the damage they have done. Once again, we see that a mere apology is not sufficient. Making restitution is an important part of God’s formula for restoration of relationships. We need to expect those who have done us harm to undo the damage they have done, because that is what the Lord expects of them. If it is impossible to undo all the damage, then we need to require them to undo as much as possible. God’s justice is a perfect justice. He requires restitution, and so should we.
RESPONSIBLE: (adj) legally or morally obliged to take care of something; having to account for one’s actions; liable; capable of rational conduct; trustworthy; being the cause of something; accountable to somebody for something; reliable; being to blame for something; rational and accountable for your actions.
Personal responsibility means taking responsibility for yourself and your life. It includes such things as holding down a job, paying your own way, taking care of and protecting your children, keeping promises and commitments, finishing what you’ve started, and being accountable for what you do and say. This is a character trait that normal, functioning adults develop as they mature. Of course, some mature much later than others, and some never mature at all.
Being responsible is what allows others to be able to trust you. When you are responsible, you are usually also trustworthy. People know you will do the right thing. Responsible people are typically considered to be people of integrity and honor as well.
Accountable adults understand that they are responsible for their choices. They are responsible for the RESULTS of their decisions. They realize that if their words or actions cause something to happen, they are responsible for what happened. And if they do harm, they are responsible for undoing it.
Many offenders are fond of saying, “But I didn’t mean it that way” or “I never meant for that to happen.” BUT INTENT IS NOT THE ISSUE. RESULTS ARE.
Let’s say you accidentally dropped hot coffee in your lap while driving, got distracted, ran a stop sign, and hit another car. You didn’t mean to do it, but you did it anyway. There’s no need to be defensive or view this as a personal attack- it’s just a statement of fact. The accident is YOUR FAULT, even though it was unintentional. That’s the truth, plain and simple. You’re the one who ran the stop sign, regardless of the reason you had for doing it. It’s certainly not the other driver’s fault, because he had the right of way. So who should pay for the damage you did to his car? Who should take responsibility? Who should be accountable? Certainly not the other guy, the innocent victim!
If you accidentally cause something to happen, you still caused it. If you unintentionally cause something to happen, you still caused it. If you inadvertently or carelessly cause something to happen, you still caused it! The damage is done, and the end result is the same, whether you meant it or not. And you still need to acknowledge that and take responsibility. And if it wasn’t an “accident” and you deliberately or selfishly caused pain for another- well, shame on you. Then you’re even more responsible for fixing what you did and making things right.
Everybody makes mistakes. Where most of us begin to lose our patience is with those who never LEARN from their “mistakes”- this tells us that these are not really “mistakes” at all, but rather ongoing patterns of behavior. If something is truly accidental or inadvertent, an accountable adult has no problem sincerely apologizing, doing whatever he can to fix the situation, and moving on. Mature adults do not have a problem apologizing for errors in judgment, or innocent mistakes that caused harm to others. There is no guilt or shame attached to a truly unintentional offense.
Those who feel guilty and ashamed avoid taking responsibility. One who did wrong deliberately, selfishly, or with malicious intent will be ashamed when she is caught or confronted, so she will not admit what she did. She will try to hide it, make excuses, or in some way weasel out of being accountable for her own behavior. She will be angry and flustered at being caught when she thought she was getting away with it. She will not admit she was wrong, she will not sincerely apologize, and she will not try to rectify the damage she did.
The reason guilt or shame is felt is that, despite what the offender might say, her words or actions WERE INTENTIONAL, or at the very least, SELFISH. One way or the other, she knew what she was doing and the effects it might have, but she decided to do it anyway, and hope for the best. Otherwise she would have nothing to feel guilty about and no problem acting in a responsible manner and making amends. Her ego would not be at stake, and she would not react with the shame of someone who was “caught” doing wrong. One who feels guilty or ashamed will lie, deny, cover-up, blame others- anything but admit that she was wrong and take responsibility for her own words or actions.
Someone who is not ashamed of herself has no reason to deny or lie about what she did. She will acknowledge her actions, apologize for the pain she caused EVEN THOUGH SHE DIDN’T MEAN TO, admit she was wrong, used poor judgment, or made a mistake, do everything she can to make restitution, and NOT REPEAT the same offense in the future. She may feel embarrassed about her actions, but she will not feel the shame that leads to covering them up. And she understands that failure to take responsibility would be an even greater reason to be embarrassed.
When you demonstrate personal responsibility, you are living up to what is expected of you by your friends and family, society, yourself, and the Lord. You are acting in a righteous manner. Being accountable means being honorable. It means people can depend on you and rely on you. It means that others can trust you. It means you have integrity. It means that you will do whatever is necessary to right a wrong, and that includes repentance and restitution. ACCOUNTABLE people are people who can be COUNTED ON. When we REPENT of our wrongdoings, make amends and RESTITUTION to the people we have hurt by undoing the damage we have done, and take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for our words and behavior and their results, we teach others that we are honorable, trustworthy, mature adults. This is what being accountable is all about.
May your unfailing love come to me, O Lord,
Your salvation according to your promise;
Then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth,
For I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees….Psalm 119:41-48 NIV.
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The Lord specifically called Sister Renee to minister to Adult Children, not their parents, estranged siblings or friends, abusive or abused spouses, or victims of other types of abuse, although what we write here can often be meaningful for those folks as well. Because of this, our ministry and website have a narrow focus which we will not be changing. We simply can't cover everything. In addition, it is not our purpose to help you re-establish contact with someone who felt it was necessary to cut you off for the sake of their own well-being. We do not keep a list of resources for estranged parents or any other type of abuse and suggest if you are sincerely interested in making amends with an estranged relative, you do an internet search for a website or group that will be more relevant to you. If you cannot find a group or site that you can relate to, we suggest you start your own, and bless other people in your position as well as find support for your personal issues.
For Adult Children and others as well, please understand that we cannot give you personal advice concerning your particular family relationships. We are not therapists or lawyers, we usually do not have enough information to form an opinion, and time does not permit us to give enough thought to each person's individual situation to do it justice. If you need personal advice, we urge you to contact the appropriate professional, depending on the problem you have- your minister, therapist, attorney, police department, local domestic violence hotline, etc. In reading this site, you acknowledge that nothing you might read here qualifies as or substitutes for professional advice. Please note we cannot recommend or refer you to a counselor and we do not have a list of therapists or recovery groups in your area. The only Counselor we recommend is the Holy Ghost, and we encourage you to read the Bible and learn for yourself what the Lord says about the issues we write about.
Our articles are strictly our personal opinions and testimonies and are not intended to give or offer any advice. All who access this site do so with the understanding that we are NOT professional counselors and we strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your pastor or therapist and pray for the Lord's guidance before acting on anything we write on this site. Unfortunately, the abuse we discuss is all too common, inflicted on countless victims by countless perpetrators. All names and identifying details in our articles have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Any resemblance to a real person or persons whom you might know is strictly coincidental.