We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Sometimes we need to complete unfinished business before we can move forward toward new opportunities in life. Some of us may have left a trail of broken laws and relationships behind us—things we need to address before moving on.
A new life doesn't excuse us from past obligations. While the apostle Paul was in prison, he led a runaway slave named Onesimus into a new life. Paul sent him back to his master, even though Onesimus risked the death penalty for his offense. Since his previous master was a friend of Paul's, and a Christian brother, they hoped that Onesimus would be forgiven.
Onesimus carried a letter to his master from Paul, which read, "I wanted to keep him [Onesimus] here with me. . . . But I didn't want to do anything without your consent. . . . You lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever. He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother. . . . If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me" (Philemon 1:13-16, 18).
Before we can move ahead we must face the unfinished business of the past. This includes offering to pay back what we owe, coming clean with the law, and going back to the people from whom we ran away. We can't assume forgiveness from people, although we can hope for it. In some cases we may be surprised to find pardon and release from the bondage of our past.
Making direct amends will release us from our bondage to the past.
Taken from The Life Recovery Devotional: Thirty Meditations from Scripture for Each Step in Recovery by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Copyright © 1991 by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.