I had a high-level position in a significant company, but I took advantage of the situation because, without realizing it, little by little I began taking money without returning it.

I was on vacation when they discovered the embezzlement, and I was afraid to go back to my country. More than a year has passed, which has been very difficult for me.… I feel dirty and ashamed. How can I repair the damage that I have done?

… There is an arrest warrant for me in my country… and I don’t have the money to hire a lawyer. Now I have met a man who has proposed marriage to me, but I haven’t told him anything about my past. What can I do?

Dear Friend,

The most important words in your letter are “dirty” and “ashamed.” These words are central to the message that your conscience is trying to get through to you, even though you have many excuses for why you have not yet paid attention. God gave you a conscience to remind you, or sometimes even to nag you, to do the right thing. The Apostle Paul said that your conscience and your thoughts can accuse you, (1) and it sounds to us like this is what is happening to you.

You say that you didn’t realize that you were taking money and not returning it. This statement tells us something else about you and your conscience. You probably felt a little guilty the first time you took money, but as time went on, you didn’t even notice any more. You ignored your conscience so many times that the messages could no longer get through to you. Now that you have been caught, you have been forced to recognize what you have done. However, you are tempted to continue hiding your crime and marry a man with whom you cannot be completely honest. The fact that you have told us your case shows that you know that it would be wrong to do that.

You could marry this man and continue to feel dirty and ashamed for the rest of your life. In addition, you would feel guilty for hiding your secret from the one who should know everything about you. You would be looking over your shoulder every day, every month, and every year, dreading the time when you would finally be exposed. Your conscience would continue to accuse you, and you would be reminded constantly that you had deceived this man. That knowledge would sabotage any chance you had for marital happiness.

Of course, you would give anything to be able to go back and start over. Every day you probably try to figure out a way to get out of this mess without having to face the consequences of what you did. But the truth is that you will only be at peace when you decide that you must go back to your country, turn yourself in to the authorities, and accept the punishment for your illegal and immoral actions.

God will give you strength if you ask Him to. And He will go with you if you confess your sins to Him and ask Him to forgive you. Because His Son Jesus Christ died on the cross to take the eternal punishment for all our sins, those of us who ask for His forgiveness do not have to be punished in the afterlife. However, in this life we do have to face the consequences for what we have done, including any punishment that our legal system decides is fair.

Do the right thing,

Linda and Charles
1 Ro 2:15