It is never too late to make restitution for past transgressions, even if the person who was wronged is no longer around, says the Rev. Billy Graham.
In an advice column published on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's website on Monday, a person asked the famed evangelist about how to compensate for a past sin.
"I stole some money from my employer (a doctor) over 40 years ago, and I still feel very guilty over it. I'd pay it back (with interest), but neither he nor his medical practice is still around. What does God want me to do? Or does it make any difference now?" they asked.
Graham responded that "it does make a difference" for "God wants us to do everything we possibly can to make it right — even if many years have passed."
"Do you remember Jesus' encounter with a man named Zacchaeus? Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the Roman government, and undoubtedly he had cheated countless people over the years by telling them they owed more money than they actually did," replied Graham.
"But after he met Jesus, he renounced his crooked ways and vowed to repay whatever he'd stolen — and more. He declared, 'If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount,' (Luke 19:8)."
Graham went on to advise the person to do two things regarding their past sin: seek the forgiveness of God regarding the matter and to donate a sum to a church charity.
"No, you no longer can repay your employer — but you can make a generous gift to your church or a mission organization that's involved in medical work," continued Graham.
"If it's not possible to repay someone we've harmed, the Bible says, 'the restitution belongs to the Lord,' (Numbers 5:8)."
This is not the first time that Graham has given advice on the matter of forgiveness this year. BGEA published a column in July written in response to a question about how one can be forgiven by God when they cannot forgive themselves.
"God is willing to forgive you for one reason: He loves you. If He hated you, or if He despised you because of what you've done, then you wouldn't have any reason to expect Him to forgive you. But He loves you," Graham said.
"Don't carry your burden of guilt any longer, but confess your sins to God and open your heart and life to Jesus Christ. God cannot lie, and His promise is for you."