A Sunday School teacher was teaching her class about the difference between right and wrong. “All right children, let’s take another example,” she said. “If I were to get into a man’s pocket and take his wallet and remove all his money, what would I be?” Little Johnny’s hand went up. “I know, I know,” he said. “All right Johnny,” the teacher said, “What would I be?” With a confident smile Johnny says, “You’d be his wife.”
Most of us don’t think we have a problem with stealing and we don’t steal in the armed robbery or burgler sense. But is that all that is meant by stealing? There are 138 synonyms for stealing. How about this list:
1. The kid at McDonald’s gives you too much change and you keep it.
2. You find money and don’t try to find who lost it. (Finders keepers)
3. You take an ink pen or paper clips home from work.
4. You do personal work while on the clock at work.
5. You read your personal email while you’re on the job.
6. You copy a tape or CD of your favorite music.
7. You buy the lunch special and your wife buys the buffet and you eat food off her plate.
8. You have an expense account at work of $30 per day. You spend $15 and pocket the other $15.
9. You take a sick day when you are not sick.
Maybe we’re not so innocent after all. One of the biggest things in the Christian life should be integrity. The world is watching. I want to address today’s Commandment, the 8th Commandment, “You shall not steal.” I’ll present three categories: (1) Stealing is a violation of the law, (2) Stealing is a violation of loyalty, (3) Stealing is a violation of love.
I. STEALING IS A VIOLATION OF THE LAW
Billions of dollars are lost every year in this country over the theft of goods and services. One estimate says that 1 out of every 52 shoppers carries something out of the supermarket for which they haven’t paid. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 4 million people are caught shoplifting every year. But for every one caught, 35 others get away with it. This means that there are over 140 million incidents of shoplifting every year in America! What’s shocking is that only 10% of all shoplifters come from low incomes. 70% are middle class and 20% are classified as wealthy (Wynona Rider, for example). America is a country of thieves. One new hotel reported that in their first ten months of operation they lost 38,000 spoons, 18,000 towels, 355 silver coffee pots, 1500 finger bowls and 100 Bibles.
Regardless of the reason, stealing is wrong! God declares it to be a sin.
A. The Correct Means of Getting Gain
God has authorized three primary methods by which people can legitimately increase their possessions.
1. As a Reward for Work
Contrary to popular belief, work is not a curse! (Remember Maynard G. Cribbs on The Dobie Gillis show?)
2 Thessalonians 3:10
10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. NKJV
2. By the Reception of a Gift
“Give and it shall be given unto you.” All of us receive gifts from family and friends. This is as it should be. I’m thankful that the Government is beginning to remove estate taxes from gifts that we leave behind. The early church was characterized by giving to meet needs of the less fortunate. Did you know that on our giving envelopes there are two categories for giving this way (Sharing love with Lincoln Park and Benevolence work)?