Thou Shalt Not Steal…
Contributed by a regular writer Lori
Simple, yet strong! Out of the ten commandments given to man in the old covenant, this is the one instruction that I see many people scoffing at, especially in these difficult, financial times. Crime, even on this little red rock, is abundant. It’s all you hear in the news these days, even though most are petty crimes. Some of these include breaking into vehicles to gather whatever monetary value they can find. Others go so far sd holding up a convenience store at knifepoint. It’s not a simple world we live in these days.
But some theft is much closer to home and therefore much harder to spot. Personally, I am of the mind that stealing is stealing and there is no difference between victims, whether the victim is rich, poor, well-known or less popular on the status pole. To steal is to steal. But the act of stealing — at least for me — does not just end here. I also see a ripple effect occurring within the social fabric. The dictionary’s definition for “stealing” is to take another person’s property without permission or legal right — without intent to return the property. Pretty straightforward!??!
I admit growing up, I had the mindset (when out on adventures with my friends and we were getting into mischief) that taking ‘minor’ things was no big deal. I blame it on being 16 and thinking we were invincible teenagers that believed (wrongly) that we were above all else in the world. Looking back, we were pretty tame. The worst we did was head to the beach after hours to have a late night bonfire. On the way to the beach, however, we would break into the public washrooms and take rolls of toilet paper for our fun on the sand. 😉
Never once at that age, (and admittedly even into my twenties) did I ever think what we were doing mattered. It was just few rolls of insignificant toilet paper every year. Thankfully, the Lord has helped my conscience to mature so that now I realize that every misdeed I commit — has a consequence. And although a consequence might not be seen immediately, eventually it does all add up.
I think becoming a mother has helped me view morals and good values differently. I also believe that getting to know Jesus better has influenced my worldview. Would I be happy to hear if my kids were stealing paper towels or cutlery from a local restaurant? Would I laugh with them if they came home with rolls of toilet paper from the gas station down the road? NO. Absolutely NOT! In fact, I would be appalled.
Looking back on my own escapades, I am appalled at my teenage self for being so brazen about taking what was NOT rightfully mine. Thankfully, I have since asked for God’s forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
Fast forward to the present where I spend most of my days with little ones. Periodically, I chat with adults and I would like to think that since we are all mothers, most of us see eye to eye on the Ten Commandments, regardless of our respective religious beliefs. But this is not necessarily the case.
A recent example comes to mind. A good friend of mine was inquiring about a product that is hard to find in retail stores as it’s mostly available in bulk quantities for large institutes to use. Someone mentioned that she should just steal some from one of these institutions. The comment was not made in jest. They were quite serious. I knew my good friend would never take this advice but there might be others willing to listen.
So, I approached the supervisor responsible. After sharing my concerns — that even a little bit will have an impact on the bottom line — which in turn could negatively affect the minimum wage worker who may get a cut in hours, I was told “Whatever, it’s the government who pays for it and we pay our taxes — so why not?” I left because there is no point arguing with that type of entrenched logic. My point in raising the issue was that others might see how the “snowball effect” could have a negative impact on the workforce overall. But sadly, to no avail.
Still, stealing to me is not a grey area that allows people to pick and choose what can be taken, and what cannot. The act of stealing is black and white and it is wrong! The Ten Commandments reiterate this point. “Thou shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)
Then I read a scripture that made me think twice. The passage is found in the new testament book of James. It states” “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (James 1:16-17)
What a wonderful message! It was then that I realized that people need to know that there is a better way for them to live. That peace and joy can only be found in seeking our Lord God and Saviour who loved us enough to shed His precious blood on a cross for you and me. That knowing Jesus as our greatest friend brings hope. And that when we are tempted, the Lord wants us to look into the perfect law of liberty and continue therein, He being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work — and in so doing, “this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:25-26)
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded – James 4:8