You shall not steal.
It started so simply… he was in the 7-11 paying for his gas and he forgot to pay for his candy bar. “Wow, that was simple,” he said, surprised that no one had noticed. The next time he was in the store, he decided to test his theory out. Could he really just walk out of the store with stolen goods and no one would notice? This time he decided to try something more expensive. “Maybe batteries… I need those and they’re small enough to fit in my pocket.” And again, he paid for his gas with no one noticing the unpurchased batteries in his jacket. It soon became a game for him. “How much can I steal and get away with it” he would ask himself. And, in turn, he became a skillful at it. Because he had an innocent face and wore preppy clothes no one expected him to steal. Beside that, he had a very congenial nature and everyone seemed to admire him, why would he need to steal? He knew all of these things but deep down inside, he also knew that he was smart enough and slick enough to deceive. He was a mastermind.
Personal ego is at the heart of the sin of stealing. We convince ourselves that something is rightfully ours and that we are justified in obtaining it, whatever the means available. Stealing doesn’t have to be taking a candy bar or batteries, it is taking anything that is not rightfully ours or that we have not earned.
Have you ever decided to do something self-indulgent when you knew God was calling you to spend some time with Him? In that instance, you have stolen time from God. Have you ever casually glanced at the test on the desk next to yours? In that instance, you have stolen all of the hard work of the person sitting next to you.
The Commandment is simply “You shall not steal” but the implication goes much further than taking a candy bar from the local convenient store. Throughout the Bible, there is an emphasis on hard work and perseverance. When we take something, tangible or intangible, we cheat ourselves out of the process God has designed to develop integrity and determination. Not only that, but we arrogantly say to God and the person we are stealing from, that we deserve something more than they do.
The lesson here is that of humility and hard work. When we see ourselves properly, we realize that we are mere humans, undeserving of any gift God chooses to give us. We don’t even deserve what he allows us to obtain through our hard work (the clothes we wear or the car we drive). God has graciously given those to us and we are able to have them because of the country we live in. No amount of hard work and determination is going to get me the nice apartment I live in now if I were living in the jungles of Africa. All that I have has been graciously bestowed upon me by my Creator, so how dare I attempt to obtain something that is not mine when I don’t deserve what I have?
I challenge you to consider your life today. Do you take things that are not yours out of selfishness? Have you purposefully done a less-than-sufficient job on something out of laziness and caused someone else more work? Have you taken something from someone (a candy bar, answers on a test, money) because somewhere inside you feel you deserve it? I challenge you to look with humility on all that you have and are and ask God to give you the proper perspective.