THE TRESPASS OFFERING
WITH RESPECT TO OFFENSES TOWARD MEN
I have already said that the trespass offering consists of two parts. One part concerns an offense toward God. This is covered in Leviticus 5. The other part concerns an offense toward man. This is covered in Leviticus 6. I want to speak on what to do when we have offended man. This is the subject of chapter six. Today’s topic can be called, "What we must do if we have lost our fellowship with God due to our offense against others." We must remember that chapter six is not on salvation and receiving life, but on our fellowship with God.
SOME SINS AGAINST MAN
Verse 1 says, "And Jehovah spoke to Moses." This tells us that what follows is from God and not from Moses. Let us see which sins, according to God, are against man. It seems as if God has put together a list which shows various kinds of trespasses. At the bottom of the list, a total of all these trespasses is given.
Verse 2 says, "When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against Jehovah..." Since the following trespasses are all against man, why does it say that they are against the Lord? When a person sins against a man, he also sins against God. God is the Creator, and every human being is created by Him. Therefore, offending man is the same as offending God. Let us now consider some of the trespasses against man:
1. Unfaithful to What Was Entrusted
Verse 2 says, "Lies to his fellowman in regard to a deposit." This sin will cause us to lose our fellowship with God. Brothers, has anyone delivered something to us to keep? Once when I went home to Foochow, someone asked me to bring some mangoes to my second aunt. But mangoes rot easily. Although I tried to prevent them from rotting, some still changed color and had almost become rotten. I thought that since all of them might be rotten by the time I arrived home, why not give them away to the people on the boat? So I selected three of the greenest ones, kept them, and gave the rest away. As I came closer to home, my heart felt a little uneasy. This was being unfaithful in the thing delivered to me by my neighbor. The mangoes were not mine. Regardless of being good or rotten, I had to bring them to my second aunt. I felt a little ashamed explaining this to my aunt, but I could not let it go unexplained because that would be unrighteousness. Finally, I cleared the matter up.
If someone entrusts fifty dollars to us, we may be faithful to it. But if someone entrusts fifty cents to us, we may not be truthful about it. Since the amount is small, we may think that it is unimportant. But this is deceitful; it is a sin which will cause us to lose our fellowship with God. Perhaps someone entrusts a letter to us to deliver. Even if we do not open the letter and read it, we sometimes like to look at the outside. It is all right if we unintentionally glance at it; but if we have the intention to pry into others’ secrets, we are wrong. This matter will hinder our real and intimate fellowship with God. I am afraid that the reason many people cannot read the Bible well is that they have sins which are not properly dealt with. If we are careless and do not deal with such sins, we will not be able to fellowship with God freely.
2. Lying in Business
Verse 2 says, "Lies to his fellowman in regard to...a security." The previous case is general. This case is not general; it is very specific. This is to sin in business. However, this is not directed only at those who are in business, but to every brother and sister. Not only can businessmen commit this sin, every brother and sister can commit this sin as well. I heard that once a mother with her three sons was sitting on a bus. When the bus conductor came to collect the fares, the mother told one of her sons to give the conductor seventy cents. Four tickets should cost seventy-two cents, but she paid only seventy cents. She kept back two cents. This was not dishonesty on the part of the conductor, but dishonesty on the part of the one who purchased the tickets. Sometimes a person rides on a tram and passes three stations beyond his destination. Should he pay according to his original destination, or according to the station that he finally gets off at? He may think that it is better for him to profit than for the tram conductor to profit, and he may decide not to pay for the three stations. This is unrighteousness. The tram conductor may cheat, but how can a Christian cheat? As a Christian, he cannot allow these things to carelessly occur. Sometimes when we buy things, others may give us twenty cents more for change. If we do not return it, we are not honest. If we covet the extra twenty cents, we are delighting in sin. These are very small matters, but we should not let them pass lightly.
Some brothers say that without lying, one cannot be successful in business. But I tell you that we must conduct our business in honesty. We may suffer in the beginning, but eventually we will come out on top. This is what many brothers have told me. We do not have to lie, and we must not lie. If we lie intentionally in our business, we will lose our fellowship with God. We must deal with this.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 18: Notes on Scriptural Messages (2), Chapter 18, by Watchman Nee)