Have you ever stolen anything? Many of us may recall a story from our childhood where we accidentally or intentionally walked out of a store with something we did not pay for, and if our parents found out, we may have been made to go back and correct the injustice after being told why this was a wrong action. But since that time, there may have been many more, less obvious ways that we have stolen from others. I know several people who are afraid to use a self-checkout machine at a store because they think they may ‘accidentally/ not scan something right and have a criminal record as a result. When I was in college, I once returned a battery to a retail store to refund a core charge, and when I got home realized they also refunded me something else I was purchasing for $2 at the same time. I never went back to make it right because of the trouble I thought it would be to try to explain what I think happened. There are likely many other little instances we can recall where either we ended up with something we didn’t pay for, or someone had taken something from us. Either way, there is a lot of theft that happens every day. What instance of something being stolen stands out most in your life?
You shall not steal. Exodus 20:15
Maybe you don’t have a rich Nigerian uncle that you never knew existed, but others may believe so and end up getting taken to the cleaners because of greed. There are opportunists around the world who look for opportunities to exploit others and take all they can get from them, whether they are 8 or 80 years old. Another time I was in college and walking through the dorm and I saw a rolled up wad of cash lying on the floor. I picked it up and it was around $125 or so, if I recall correctly. Citing the ‘Finders Keepers’ rule, I felt justified in making it mine. A little later on, I overhead someone saying they lost some cash, and asked how much it was, and of course the amount I had found earlier. Feeling convicted, I gave it to him and returned it to the rightful owner, feeling a little disappointed that my fortune had turned so quickly. In most cases there is usually a way to correct an injustice, even though we may be reluctant to do so if we seemingly ‘got away with it.’ White collar crimes have been around since the beginning of time as well, and whether it is just not paying the full share of the tax you owe, or overcharging for something just because you can get away with it may still be illegal, or unethical at least. How do you try to make things right when infractions are discovered?
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Ephesians 4:28
Most often, when someone gets away with stealing, they look for opportunities to do it again, or ways to get more, and the cycle never ends till they get caught or somehow have a change of conscience. What about taking away someone’s time or opportunity to make money, is this also stealing? Using work supplies for our own benefit, and company vehicle for personal use, or company time for personal use, phone calls, or surfing the net, is that not also theft? How about spending our time on things that matter instead of short, momentary things that we think will make us happy, but only leave us empty. Is that not stealing from our family, ourselves and the God who created us? When we sell ourselves short on the ability and opportunities we have been given in life, are we not stealing from everyone? we may have stickier fingers than we thought. Let us repent of all these things and live life with even more integrity, making the most of every opportunity going forward!
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10
Yours in Christ,