And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
- Exodus 20:1-17
Once upon a time, there was a young boy. He stood in the checkout line at discount store. He saw some candy, and he put it into his pocket.
When he got home, his mother saw the candy. She had seen him near the candy shelves at the checkout. She knew he had no money, so she accused him.
The boy denied having stolen the candy. He said that a boy on the bus had given him the candy the day before. His mother didn’t believe the story. He would have produced the candy then, not a day later.
His father was an officer of the court. In such a position, he was duty bound to turn his son over to the authorities. As a father, he wanted to believe his son’s story. As the day wore on, the grandparents were called. The little boy told his grandmother that he was being picked on while riding the bus. A boy befriended him and gave him the candy. When he was in the checkout lane, he saw the same kind of candy on the shelf. If he got caught, everyone would think that he stole it. He knew then that he needed to get the candy out of his pocket before someone would accuse him.
His grandmother and his father talked it over. It was decided that some father-son time was needed.
While they were having their father-son time, his mother did something naughty. The young boy kept a diary and she read it. In the diary, the boy had written, “I’m in big trouble. I stole the candy.”
This is only the beginning of a story that will take a lifetime to play out.
The young boy has placed himself at a crossroad. He can turn to the left or turn to the right. Yet, the damage of betrayal is already there. The young boy can be forgiven, but can he ever be trusted again. He was such a convincing liar; he showed that he had no remorse in telling the lies. There is only a glimmer of hope in that he wrote it down.
If you looked at the Ten Commandments, his first violation was the tenth commandment. The store owned the candy. He coveted the candy.
How about the first commandment, the young boy figured that he was more important than God. He put himself first. If God had wanted him to have the candy, the means to obtain the candy would be available. Since he put himself first, he did not trust God to provide, and the first commandment went the way of the tenth commandment.
Now for the criminal act, he broke the eighth commandment. He followed through on his desire and his putting himself before God, he took the candy. No need to explain. This is obvious.
Then, he lied. He broke the ninth commandment. This wasn’t testimony in court, but in a familial court with his father as judge, jury, and executioner. This betrayal is the worst so far. It leaves everyone involved with a question. From now on, when the young boy says ‘left’ do you go right? They may question every word that he says for the rest of his life. When the boy stands at the crossroad, he could be deciding his fate forever. He’s too young to know what forever means, but he soon will know.
Yet, we aren’t finished with the commandments. How about the second commandment? Did he not worship and bow down to the candy in his heart? If it wasn’t an act of worship, he wouldn’t have risked violating so many other commandments.
He lied to his mother, his father, and his grandmother. This violates the fifth commandment. The corollary to the promise in the fifth commandment is that in dishonoring his parents, his days will not be as long. Maybe his forever will not be that much of ‘forever.’
Before we leave the Ten Commandments, I’d like to add the fourth commandment. What? He used no curse words in all of his lies! But a couple of years ago, he said that he accepted Jesus into his heart. He became a church member. He was baptized. When he went beyond a criminal act to covering up that act with lies, he betrayed his sacred trust with Jesus. Calling yourself a Christian and then showing others that you don’t care about God’s Laws is a way of misusing the name of God. The young boy was giving every Christian a bad name, Jesus along with the rest of us.
Okay, the young boy is at a crossroad in life with the weight of many sins, not just one.
John the Baptist called the people to repent. That means to turn away from sin. That means to reject the lifestyle that goes with sin. That means to keep your eyes on Jesus.
To the left is the world and all of the shiny things that the Devil places there to tempt us. The boy has proven to have skills. He can steal and make it out of the store without being caught. He can lie so convincingly that he can fool his parents and grandparents. Yes, the boy has skills if he goes to the left. And his conscience doesn’t seem to bother him either.
To the right is Jesus. He doesn’t have any skills to make it down that path. He knows so little about Jesus that he thought Jesus wouldn’t mind a stolen piece of candy. He didn’t know that Jesus wept when he saw the pain of His dearest friends. He wept when the candy was stolen. He wept when the lies were told. Jesus wept when the boy would rather look at the candy instead of looking at Jesus.
Yes, the young boy is at a crossroad. He has the ability to succeed if he goes to the left, and he has no ability to survive if he goes to the right. But, wait! Jesus has the ability to resist the Devil’s temptations. Jesus has the ability to walk the path to the right. With true repentance, complete turning from the sin, and trusting in Jesus, Jesus can keep the young boy on the right path.
Will there be other crossroad in the boy’s life? Yes, of course, but Jesus will be there.
How does the boy even turn to the right? By studying and finding out who Jesus is. He needs to read the Bible and learn about Jesus. He needs to talk to people who know Jesus and learn more from them. He needs to pray and talk to Jesus Himself. This needs to become a total commitment.
Without that total commitment, the Devil will show the boy something else, maybe worth a lot more than a couple of dollar’s worth of candy.
Can the store, his parents, and his grandparents forgive him? Yes.
Can they trust him? Betrayal is a terrible hurt. The hurt is deep. Time will tell.
He has a decision to make. Is it an important one? Yes. It is life and death. It is a life of misery and shame. Or a Life forever with a capital “L” with God in Glory.
Can Santa take him from the naughty list and put him back on the nice list just three days before Christmas? We only have three days of waiting to find out…
Maybe this is a story of fiction. Maybe this was a true story, with some of the details changed. Maybe the boy (or could it be a girl?) thought that Santa would not show up, but even Santa has the ability to forgive, when there is a full confession and repentance.
Is this a true story? Change the details and it is happening every day, around the world. Young boys don’t simply turn rotten. It happens in small steps, many unnoticed. But when loving parents do what they have to do and remain involved in their children’s lives and keep their children praying and reading the Bible, while doing a lot of praying and reading themselves, there is hope for the next generation.
This story could have been written in the time of Mark Twain. Has the world or the Devil changed in the past hundred years? We just have to keep praying for these young children, and helping when we can.