How do I repent of stealing from my neighbors?



I have sinned for many years. I recently gave my life to Christ. I repented to the Lord of all my sins. I am devoting the rest of my existence to serving the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of my biggest sins was being a thief for many years. I stole mainly to survive, to afford food, bills, etc. I never held up anyone, but I took things from people who never noticed they were gone. I also stole from retail stores.

I came up with a plan to perhaps repay them back. Maybe not to come out and say to them I stole from them because I'd lose their trust or worse, end up in jail. Maybe not to come out and say here are your items or here is the money from the items I sold, etc. But maybe anonymously send them money for good relevant reasons (in their lives), and sometimes anonymously return their stuff without them noticing.

One big question was about this. I stole stuff from my neighbor, who is a multimillionaire, and sold the stuff for money to live. I now feel very guilty about it regardless. I was considering sending them a card this Easter with the money in it to put toward the restoration of a home that they had purchased.

They don't need the money, and they didn't miss what I took, so my question is: Should I still send them the money from the items I took and sold, or should I donate it to a charity or to a church?
One reason I was hesitant to donate it to a church or a charity is because I believe it might be considered "dirty money" and was obtained through wrongdoings. But in the same sense, it would be like taking gambling winnings and donating them to a church or charity, it would be through means of "wrongdoing", wouldn't it? Would you agree with that? Should I give the money back to someone who doesn't necessarily need the money? Or give it to a Christian charity or church?

I stole from another person years ago, and I did the same thing. He is also rich and doesn't really need the money, but I considered giving him some items that equaled the amount in items I also took from him. Would that be acceptable?

As for other items I stole from retail stores over the years. I no longer have most of them. Should I donate the money to a charity or donate it to a church? I have sat for several hours and pondered and came up with almost everything I've ever stolen over the years and come up with a dollar amount from each one I stole from, whether it be knives and forks I took from restaurants wrongfully or shopping carts from stores, or items from stores. I want to give back what I took, if possible, and the items I still have. I may be unable to return some items to certain people, so I thought about giving them money instead. Would that be sufficient? Or is any of it necessary since I repented? I want to right all of my wrongs.

Some of it I still have, and I plan on trying to give it all back. It may take me a very long time to do it since I am very poor(below the poverty level). I am self-employed, and I depend on the means of selling what I obtain honestly and before, sometimes dishonestly. I can't hold a steady job because I am either too slow or not good enough for anyone at anything I ever do. It caused me deep depression in the past and feeling worthless because I'm not good at anything, and it is likely the root of what caused me to steal and live the life I did.

I hope to hear back from you soon; I'm a day or two away from thinking about giving the millionaire an Easter card with the money inside. I would like to know what I should do.



One of the things to consider when making restitution is that you don't want to appear to be profiting from what you stole. Whether a victim of your thefts is rich does not make any difference. His success in life does not justify you taking things from him. If you give the man money to restore a house, you are using his money to make yourself appear to be generous, which would not be proper.

Since you know what you took from each person, it would be better to tell the person. It would be difficult to do, and it might strain relationships or land you in jail, but it also has the greatest potential for healing problems you might not even be aware that you caused. However, if you can't bring yourself to do that, then mail a cashier's check to each person without a return address. Include a short unsigned note explaining that you became a Christian and regret the sins you committed in the past, which included stealing from the person. This way, the person knows why money was mysteriously mailed to him. I would suggest treating the stores in the same way. Use charities when you don't remember who you stole from so that at least someone else benefits from your change.

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