If you’ve defrauded someone, God expects you to make restitution. Don’t sweep it under the rug and try to save face. Zacchaeus was a first-century con artist who worked for the Romans collecting taxes from his own people, the Jews. He fleeced everything that walked. The Bible says he was rich (Luke 19:2). Filthy rich!
But after spending a night with Jesus, he was radically changed. How do we know this? Because he said: ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ Jesus taught, ‘Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.’ (Matthew 3:8 NIV) But sometimes it’s not possible to make amends to the person you’ve hurt. What if they’re dead? What if you had an affair with someone else’s spouse? Should you go back and tell their husband or wife about it so you can feel less guilty? No, you’d break their heart and maybe destroy their home.
So what should you do? Pray and receive God’s forgiveness (see 1 John 1:7–9). And if you still feel troubled about it, talk to your pastor, or a Christian counsellor, or a mature friend who can handle it. James writes, ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.’ (James 5:16 NIV)
The point is, you must be willing to make amends when it’s possible, and willing to incur the cost to make things right. If you do that, God will bless you and you can live with a clear conscience concerning it.