I recently had the opportunity to teach on the subject of stealing. This was a subject I had recused myself of until I began to prepare the lesson and then all of a sudden my toes started to hurt. The context for this lesson was in our Discipleship Class on Saturday mornings. We were each taking a week to teach through one of the Ten Commandments. As each lesson was presented, I believe we all felt a sense of conviction that, while maybe not on the surface, we are all guilty of breaking these commands as some point in our life.
LOTS OF OPTIONS
So here is what I discovered about stealing: There are lots of options. Maybe the most common or what comes to mind first is in the form of robbery. Think of this as a forced transfer of possession. Hopefully you’ve never been mugged but that would be the idea here. Then there are the more passive and, I would argue, the most common forms. Here’s where the toes start hurting. Have you ever written a paper for school or given a speech in which you used someone else’s words and didn’t give them credit? This was a big news story recently when Melania Trump seemed to be delivering Michelle Obama’s speech from 8 years ago. What about downloading a music or video file that has been copyrighted? Or maybe you fudge a little on your time sheet or tax return?
Since the fall of man, we have been stealing form each other. So what about stealing from God? Is it possible? If so, how? Malachi 3:8-10 answers this question
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
HOW ELSE MIGHT WE ROB GOD?
We rob God of His glory and praise when we take undue credit for His work.
We rob God of His goodness and grace when we live hopeless, woe-filled lives.
We rob God of His truth and justice when we water down His word and seek tolerance.
We rob God when we use our talents and gifts for everything except His purposes.
We rob God when we are reckless with the resources he has given us.
SO HOW DO WE NOT STEAL?
It seems stealing is a result of impatience, laziness, fear and jealousy.
So we have to overcome those things with…
Trust – Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Hard Work – Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
Confidence – Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Contentment – 1 Timothy 6:6-7
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
May we strive to not only honor each other but also God by respecting and stewarding each other’s possessions and ultimately God’s glory and praise which is His and His alone.