Exodus 20: 15
You shall not steal.
That's pretty black and white, no pun intended in reference to the image of the word above. But God was about as straight forward with that commandment as He could be. And the commandment that I posted about last week is directly related to stealing.
If I want something that doesn't belong to me, I covet. And if I decide to take that which I want that doesn't belong to me, I steal. Pretty simple concept.
So why do we do it?
Folks of all races, religions, cultures - they all know it's wrong. Even little kids learn from an early age that it is not the right thing to do. And yet at some point we do it.
We can be guilty of stealing all sorts of things. Of course criminals are most notorious for stealing objects of value, such as jewelry, cars, weapons, and money. But artists and innovators can be guilty of stealing ideas. Jealous competitors can steal opportunity. Computer hackers steal access. Human traffickers steal lives. And most importantly, the Devil steals hearts.
Yet if I can prevent that last one, the others don't happen. Now don't get me wrong; Satan is a powerful adversary. I am not about to say just anyone can take him on, or that anyone can resist him. Although I think a select few can, I know that if we ask God to help us, any one of us can prevent Satan from stealing our hearts. But you see, if we give into the temptation to steal, or take, what doesn't belong to us, we have basically given control of our hearts over to the Devil himself. After all, isn't taking what isn't mine one of the ultimate examples of selfishness? And who better reflects selfishness than Satan?
Going back to what I was saying about coveting in my last post, I think stealing that which doesn't belong to us has led to several of the other problems we have in this world. First of all, theft of valuables is probably one of the most common offenses that land criminals into real jail time. Plagiarism and people taking credit for someone else's work, politicians jealous of other politicians' power or influence, and computer hackers have led to some of the most dangerous or volatile situations in society today. And all of these things have come about because an individual or individuals have given in to Satan and his temptations, and therefore given him control. But in order to fight Satan's urge for you to take something that doesn't belong, we must first ask God to help us not be tempted by what we wanted in the first place. Can you see how the two go hand in hand - coveting and stealing?
Another way to not want the wrong things, or other people's property, or luxuries, is to not place ourselves in the position where we are more likely to want such things. We can also avoid hanging out with those who may influence us to make poor decisions and try to take things that don't belong to us. But when you get right down to it, it comes back to your heart, and who is in control. If any one of us lets the Devil take control, it is that much easier to do what isn't right. And I think most of us can see, falling further into this selfish sin isn't good for anyone.
What about in your own personal life? Are there things you 'steal'? Are there moments when you have given into taking that item or thing, or idea, that belonged to someone else? What did you do about it after it happened? How old were you? Did you get caught? If you have a story to tell, I'd love to hear from you. Perhaps I will tell you one of mine.
And when you were caught, did you tell the whole truth about what happened, or why you did what you did? Often times, telling a lie is done simply to try to avoid getting caught, or admitting wrong-doing. A little more on that, next time.