None of us Steal &hellpis; Do We?
I think we have already seen we all have probably stolen at one time or another. But I don’t think we always do so consciously. About the only area many of us may at one time or another have had to deal with the reality of the issue is in the workplace, specifically focusing on the use of our time. I know I’ve felt, at one time or another, maybe I wasn’t being as productive as I should be. Sometimes I would rationalize away the thought. Other times, I would accept I was stealing and would therefore strive to be more responsible. Also in the workplace, most have taken home a few sheets of paper, an eraser, used the fax or photocopy machine for personal business. ”After all, the office wouldn’t miss these little things and considering how underpaid I am, I’m entitled.“ What is worse is sometimes in these situations, we don’t even realize we are taking what isn’t ours.
We are again talking about the reality of sin in our lives. We have talked about the need to take sin seriously and to set holiness as our goal. Our comfort in the middle of all of this comes from the knowledge of our forgiveness.
”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.“ (1 John 1:9 ESV).
But here, the key to forgiveness for all unrighteousness is to repent and ask for forgiveness for those sins we are aware of. We must learn to recognize we have been guilty of stealing.
Maybe the thing we have stolen the most frequently is the honor of the Lord. We represent ourselves as believers, as His ambassadors. But sometimes we fall and don’t live up to our position. Do people sometimes look at us and say: ”If that is what being a Christian means, I don’t want any part of it?“
Another behavior I struggle with is stealing God’s credit by accepting praise for things that are really his. Now I’m not saying that it is wrong to be appreciated or to praise someone. But I have to be careful to remember that any ”success“ I experience is due to God’s mercy, graciousness and willingness to let me be used by him. We need to pray for sensitivity in our lives, so that we are aware of just where we are failing.
It was this behavior, taking God’s honor, which got Moses into such trouble.
”And Moses took the staff from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, ”Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?“ And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ”Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.““ (Numbers 20:9–12 ESV).
I don’t want to come down so heavy on this one command. But, I think it is important to realize that we don’t really think about some of the commandments because we look at them and see them in a fairly superficial way. We think: ”I obviously haven’t violated some of these except in the context of ‘if you break one, you have broken all.’ That isn’t all that bad.“
I don’t want our lives to become joyless because we spend so much time examining ourselves, our sinful condition. Conversely, I don’t want to fall short of the mark because I have been lazy and not taken God’s call seriously. I’m sure each of us desires to serve Him as best as we possibly can. This necessitates that we really understand the issues here.
The other point to remember is if we focus on loving God and others, we will be concerned about how to care for them, how to be responsible. Then, except due to simple lack of awareness, we will not be in danger of stealing from others.
Let’s step back for a few minutes; after all, I don’t want to beat a dead horse. Let us consider the positive side of the commandment. If we are called not to steal, and we want not only to avoid breaking the commandment - but we want to do more, we have to ask: What is the opposite of stealing?
It isn’t enough to not take what isn’t ours. We also need to focus on giving what is. Don’t you think it might be appropriate for those of us who have, to help those who don’t? This really isn’t a leap of logic, because Paul makes a direct connection between taking and giving.
”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 ESV).
Again, we are called to be the Lord’s witnesses to those with whom we come in contact. This means our lives aren’t to be typified by what we don’t do, but by what we do do. So, the question becomes: What can we do to carry out this command from a positive perspective?