Whenever a sin caused loss to the one sinned against, restitution had to be made to him for his loss according to a valuation made by the priest. An additional one-fifth was added to the evaluation to compensate the plaintiff for any costs involved in recovering his loss. This process contains a valuable, spiritual lesson.
Suppose a person stole something from another worth a hundred dollars. He would then appear before the priest with his offering (a ram without blemish), as well as a hundred dollars. However, an additional twenty more dollars (one-fifth) would go to the victim to cover any mental anguish or attorney's or private detective's fees. This is what would have happened physically. However, we should consider this spiritually because this principle has application to us today. We are similarly under His government.
When we break His law, we are indebted to Him. The penalty of breaking His law is death. If we pay the penalty, we die, ending our indebtedness, but it also ends our potential, stops our growth, and perhaps—God forbid—keeps us from entering God's Kingdom. That would be the total end of everything! However, upon repentance, God permits us to claim the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin. He allows the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to substitute for us.
However, in doing so, He now has a claim on us He did not have before we made use of Christ's sacrifice (symbolically, the unblemished ram). Before, He had a claim only on our obedience, but now He also has a claim on our life because He has spared us the death penalty. God not only forgives our sin, but He also clears us of guilt and then gives us the wherewithal to keep His law in the future. God adds grace, that is, gifts, as this is generally what "grace" means.
In Romans 5:20, Paul puts it this way: "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more." When God forgives our sins at the beginning of our conversion, He does not simply wipe sins away. He also invites us into communion with Him, gives us His Spirit to enable obedience, promises to provide all our needs, and adds everlasting life on top of all this! In other words, God sets the example of going above and beyond what is merely required of Him.
God expects us to follow His example in our relationships with each other. The twenty-percent payment over and above what was literally owed represents the way we are to act toward men in general. In answer to the disciples' request to increase their faith, Jesus clearly instructs them to go above and beyond what was required (Luke 17:5, 9-10).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins His ministry espousing this very principle:
You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. And if any man wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. (Matthew 5:38-42)
He crowns his teaching on this principle in verses 43-44: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." He says we must be quick to forgive. He did that very thing hanging on the stake in behalf of the very ones who were killing Him! That is going above and beyond even in the midst of great personal pain and stress when one would most likely have his mind focused on himself. At the very least, we should have a mind to extend grace even before our enemies want it.
In concluding instructions on loving our enemies, Jesus makes an arresting statement on the attitude and conduct by which His disciples are to live:
And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much aback. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:34-38)
Even as God lives by grace, we too are to learn to implement it into our lives. If we want to super-abound, we must learn to give grace. We are to go above and beyond mere requirement because it will support developing the mind of God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Seven): The Sin and Trespass Offerings