Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

08 – Theft

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This is a series on the “Decalogue” or “Ten Commandments” these are found in the second book of the bible Exodus in chapter 20. Moses receives these words from God on top of the mountain and he receives the commands on two tablets. The first tablet contains the instructions for man’s relationship with God. We pick up the account in the fifthteenth verse of chapter twenty where we see the eighth of the Ten Commandments.

V15 “You shall not steal.

Again seems fairly straight forward huh? Do not take anything that does not belong to you, you have not bought or you have the right of possession over. If you see that candy bar in the gas station, it is not appropriate to apply the “five fingered discount” to get it for free. That part is simple.

I am going to borrow this… 

The most common method of stealing is the thief that borrows something with no intention of returning it. This to me commits two of the ten commandments as you are entering into the deal with one side understanding different terms from you. If you are “borrowing indefinitely” and the owner believes he will get it back at some point, let’s call it what it is – stealing!

I remember sitting under a Pastor one Sunday who said he bought a stamp for his religious and theological books and stamped the inseams of front and back as well as the exterior pages (like they do in the library) and the stamp read “STOLEN FROM XXXXXXX”. He revealed that when he did this he had a much higher percentage of books returned because no-one likes to be called a thief.

Whilst this is decent property management, we are called to be generous with our excess. When we give, when we lend out we should do so with clear terms, however, we should also forgive if we do not have our property returned to us, we read this in the Psalms…

 

Psalm 37:12 (ESV) The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;

 

And we also see this in Paul’s first letter to Timothy…

1st Timothy 6:17 (ESV) As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Let’s face it we are rich and have excess, regardless of our lamentations on the size of our bank account.

Personally when I give, I do it under the assumption that I will never see it again, that way I don’t get all “bent out of shape” if it is not returned and I don’t lose a relationship with someone over something trivial.

Stealing from your employer

This again is obvious as a no-no! If you work in a bank you would not break into the safe and remove all the cash, but there are subtle ways that you can steal from your employer…

1) Coming in late and not doing your contracted hours
2) Being tardy in returning to work for breaks and lunches
3) Petty theft (paper, staplers that idea)
4) Going slow, being lazy at work
5) Using company property for own uses and not respecting companies time with due care.

A good question to ask when you are examining whether you do this or not is “Would my actions confirm my relationship with Jesus and will it win folks to Christ, if not then you may have to question what you do and the way you do it.

Coming in late and not doing your contracted hours

This is obvious, your employer hired you because they need you and want to see you in the time that they are paying you for. If you arrive late, leave early and no not make recompense for your time then you are stealing money from your employer that you have not earned.

As Christians we should be looking to set an example for diligence and hard work, we are to be there early and be ready to start work when we get paid, be ready to take on our roles and whatever extra we are trusted with and do it as if we are working for the LORD. (Colossians 3:23)

Colossians 2:22 (ESV) Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Being tardy in returning to work for breaks and lunches

This is similar to coming in early/leaving late in that you are stealing a salary from your employer; you are being rewarded for time you were not there. Remember what we said last time and ask yourselves this question. “Would you be this tardy is Jesus Christ was your boss?”

Petty theft (paper, staplers that idea)

Again it is obvious but again a no-no! Regardless if it is a few sheets of A4 or the company car, theft is theft and despite any justification you may have regarding the price tag of what has been stolen it is the exact same thing.

Going slow, being lazy at work

This can be different depending on which industry you are in, but I assume if you have been in your job for more than a few weeks then you will understand what is expected of you and what constitutes doing a “good job” in your position.

Most folks who do this will make it look like they are working hard and really are deliberately slowing down the process as to fill the hours and just pass time until they can be released. This is the hardest one to identify (unless it is so obvious you cannot miss it) but again is a really bad witness for Jesus Christ.

Using company property for own uses and not respecting companies time with due care

If you are printing stuff off at work for your own ends (I once saw someone print off invites to a bible study) without your manager or owners approval you are stealing paper, stealing ink and stealing server space on a computer. (Three counts huh?)

Ephesians 4:28 (ESV) 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.

I bet you didn’t think of that one huh?

Do not steal from God

We are supposed to be generous, we have covered that before in this topic but a question which is good to ask is “do we honor God in our finances?” I make no money from this site and put barely anything out to run it so I am not after a donation or a tithe but I do wish to prick your heart regarding your generosity.

Dave Ramsey, the Christian money expert starts off with a bunch of baby steps in order to get you out of debt and these baby steps start with basics such as make a budget, then make an emergency fund, then start paying off debt in a debt snowball, then build wealth and then he states something I did not expect and that is be generous.

We have our own individual excess and we have to be grateful to God for what he is blessed us with, we should be giving to God whether that is in the form of a tithe or whether it is simply a free will gift offering (perhaps you are not in the situation where you can do a regular tithe) but God calls us to obedience.

I believe that we will see God’s blessings and he will do far more for us than we would do for ourselves. I don’t believe that God makes everyone millionaires and we have to be sensible in what we give, however if the LORD has put it on your heart to do so then you will be blessed by your obedience.

Malachi 3:8 (ESV) Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.

This is just a small overview of ways you could be stealing, please if you think of any more I would love for you to comment below.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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