“You shall not steal.”
- Exodus 20:15
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
- Matthew 6:19-24
Have you ever taken something that wasn’t yours? Oh, I’m sorry, I will rephrase that. Have you ever borrowed something on the long-term borrow plan without ever signing the long-term borrow contract?
We had a neighbor who had that ‘everything that is mine is mine and everything that is yours is mine’ attitude. My wife was taking a nap one day while I was at work. She heard a familiar sound from outside the bedroom window. Someone was taking our sixteen foot extension ladder. She ran outside in time to see the helping neighbor that helps everyone with odd jobs, mostly for free, halfway up the ladder to fix some holes in the neighbors siding. The neighbor was there. She called me to confirm whether I had afforded the neighbor a bank check for borrowing. I said that I had not. The nasty neighbor claimed that he was just borrowing. My wife claimed that borrowing without permission was theft. She insisted that the ladder be returned. It wasn’t the use of the ladder that offended. It was taking it without even asking that had offended. If the ladder was the only infraction, she wouldn’t have said anything, but he’d ‘borrowed’ gasoline from our can for the lawn mower for years by this time, climbing onto our porch to get it. I had caught him on a few occasions. I don’t think he ever paid for lawn mower gas. He often bragged about not paying for trash collection. Since everyone put their trash out the night before, he’d wait until after dark and add his bags to the trash cans that were not full.
The ladder was returned and the helping neighbor went to his house to get his ladder to finish the job. Our neighbor never said a word to us after that confrontation. In his mind, he was no thief and he demanded an apology. Whenever he left to go fishing (actually womanizing) at the lake, we talked to his wife. She would apologize for his bad behavior and lament that we had to sneak over for visits, but I think she loved the clandestine conversations. She was, in a way, ‘cheating’ on her cheating husband. She also knew that if her husband collapsed with a heart attack, we’d be the first ones there to do CPR before the ambulance got there.
I don’t think I ever took things on purpose. Sometimes, an item might have been borrowed, and I forgot to return it. Sometimes, my boys would play with other kids’ toys that were left in our yard. The other kids never came back for the toys. Then again, how many times did the other kids break our kids’ toys when they came to visit? My kids had the cool Mom. It seemed that all neighborhood play for boys was at our house.
Have you ever visited social media when you were at the office? (This doesn’t apply to those working on the company page or working for a social media provider.) Were you supposed to be working at the time? If you don’t punch a clock and always show up late and leave early, aren’t you stealing when you put the full eight hours on your timesheet? I’ve known people who were at work for less than seven hours each day, but they were paid for an eight hour day.
Stealing goes far beyond slipping the pack of gum into your pocket while in the checkout line.
NOTE: You may think that stealing a pack of gum is no big thing. You are taking from a corporation, not a person, but that corporation has stock holders. If enough packs of gum are stolen, your neighbor, who owns stock in the company, doesn’t get his dividend.
God wants us to be honest in our dealings with other people. It shows love for those other people. But it also shows love for God and faith in Him. When we steal, we are saying that we don’t trust in God or in what God has provided.