Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ten Commandments: Stealing

Chuckle: A minister took a drunk man home one night. He kept insisting that the minister go in with him. "Why do you want me to go in with you?" The minister asked. He replied -- "I want my wife to see who I've been out with!"
Quote: “In vain we call old notions fudge, And bend our conscience to our dealing; The Ten Commandments will not budge, And stealing will continue to be stealing.” --James Russell Lowell

"You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15 NIV).
The last five Commands deal with the moral values of honesty and integrity. They are especially applicable today because our society seems to get progressively more dishonest. Many have the idea that "It's not really stealing if you don't get caught." But these commandments remind us that "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (I Samuel 16:7). I'm reminded of the saying that "Reputation is what people think you are; character is what God knows you are."
We often tend to wink at stealing small things and are alarmed only by larger crimes. At one extreme, unscrupulous Charles Keating wiped out the savings of thousands of investors in a multimillion dollar swindle involving savings and loans. At the other end of the spectrum is the person who puts money in a vending machine for a snickers bar but nothing comes out. So he kicks the machine and out come ten snickers. Nine don't belong to him. What does he do? Stealing is stealing no matter the amount stolen.
Some justify stealing as alright if they steal from a company rather than a person or from someone who won't notice it's gone, because they have so much. They see it as unfair that they don't have what others have. It's not stealing If I mean to give it back eventually -- before they notice or need it. How about taking things from the church kitchen, etc.? By trying to hide our stealing, we often call it something else.
"You shall not cheat your fellow and you shall not rob"(Leviticus 19:13) "If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him"  (Exodus 23:4). Stealing is (1) taking something that doesn't belong to you, (2) not returning something to its rightful owner; or (3) keeping something given you by mistake. I ran across this list of modern-day responses concerning stealing:
1. "Finders keepers, losers weepers." 2. "I didn't steal it -- it was their stupid mistake." 3. "It's only fair, considering all my past bad luck and problems." 4. "I deserve it because I don't have it." 5. "It's not hurting anyone." 6. "I was only borrowing it." 7. "He deserves it." or "It serves him/her right." 8. "I haven't really taken anything significant." "I only lie about my age for discounts." 9. "I did it for a good reason." 10. "Everyone else does it." 11. "All's fair in love, war, and in business." 12. "I'll pay when I can." 13. "I work here -- I've earned it." 14. "I couldn't help myself." 15. "I pay too much in taxes anyway." 16. "No one will ever know."
Why did God include "stealing" in with "murder" and "adultery?" The answer is all too obvious. What God is saying is: "I love you and want to provide what you need. I don't want you to steal, scheme, manipulate, and deceive to obtain things." When we steal, large or small, we say, "I will be my provider -- if I don't take it now, I will be the loser."
Bottom line: Unless you bought it, earned it, received it as a gift, or inherited it, it belongs to someone else and taking it is stealing. "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his/her hands, that he may have something to share with those in need" (Ephesians 4:28 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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