Let Us Compensate

A child pushed another child in the church yard and made him fall, bleeding. His mother rushed to the scene. But she only picked up her child and hurried away, ignoring the hurt child.

A graduate student found a scratch on the side of his new car after Sunday service. There was no note, so the student posted a message on our web bulletin board asking the person who responsible for the scratch to contact him. No one did.

I think I understand why people flee when they cause an accident. I have to shamefully confess that I did the same thing when I was in graduate school. I was trying to find a parking space at the university lot a few days after I got my first driver’s license. The lot was nearly full but I was able to find an empty space. Trying to park there before anyone else, I hurried and hit the bumper of the car in the adjacent space. The damage was minor but visible. At that moment I was gripped with fear that the owner of the damaged car might ask for a lot of money. I was living on a meager research assistant’s income at the time, and was afraid of getting caught and being asked to pay an unreasonably high amount of money I couldn’t afford. So I drove away and parked somewhere else. Thinking about it still makes me blush.

Koreans tend to disappear from accidents without leaving notes. The main reason, I think, is fear. Historically, they’ve lived under tyrannical rulers, most of whom were only interested in exploiting them. People couldn’t expect fair treatment or justice. So it was natural for them to avoid authority as much as possible. When accused of doing something wrong, the best defense was to simply deny it. With time, the fear of authority may have become a part of the Korean character. I still remember how, when I first came to the States, every time a police car passed by I felt fear inside, even though I hadn’t done anything wrong. I must be a genuine Korean.

However, when we receive Christ we become a new creature. As a new person we must overcome such fear and be responsible. We must learn to admit our wrongs and bear the consequences. Scripture says: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matt. 3:8) When you damage something you should pay for it. When you make a dent on a parked car, leave your telephone number so the other person can contact you. We may suffer some financial loss as a result but I think God will compensate us richly.

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