Summary: To maintain healthy relationships, don't take from the relationship; instead, work to give to that relationship.
Three college freshman and three seniors were traveling home for Spring break. At the station, the three freshmen bought tickets for themselves and watched as the seniors bought just one ticket.
“How are the three of you going to travel on only one ticket?” asked one of the freshmen.
“Watch and learn,” answered one of the seniors.
They all boarded the train. The three freshmen took their respective seats as all three seniors crammed into a little bathroom together and closed the door. Shortly after the train departed, the conductor came around collecting tickets. He knocked on the bathroom door and said, “Ticket, please.” The door opened just a crack and a single arm emerged with a ticket in hand. The conductor took it and moved on.
The freshmen watching all this agreed that it was a clever idea, so they decided to do the same thing on the return trip and save some money.
When they got to the station, they bought a single ticket for the return trip. The seniors were also there, but they didn't buy a ticket at all.
“How are you going to travel without a ticket?” asked one perplexed freshman.
“Watch and learn,” answered a senior.
When they boarded the train, the three seniors crammed themselves into one little bathroom and the three freshmen crammed into another one across the way.
Shortly after the train is on its way, one of the seniors left their bathroom and walked to the bathroom where the freshmen were hiding. The senior knocked on their door and said, “Ticket, please.” (Author unknown; adapted and submitted by Aaron Goerner, Utica, New York; www.PreachingToday.com)
That was clever, but it was also very stupid. Those seniors might have saved some money, but they sold their integrity, and they destroyed any relationship they might have had with those freshmen.
When we talk about maintaining healthy relationships, the Bible is very practical on this point. In 10 simple commands, it tells us how to love God and to truly love people. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Exodus 20, Exodus 20, where we get this practical help on all our relationships. This morning we’re looking at the 8th command.
Exodus 20:15 You shall not steal.
There you have it, pure, plain, and simple. If you want to maintain healthy relationships, then don’t steal; don’t rob one another…
DON’T TAKE what doesn’t belong to you.
Now, obviously, this covers the “big” sins like robbing a bank, or shoplifting. But stealing also involves things like taking a person’s time by being late for an appointment, taking someone’s honor through gossip, or borrowing something and not returning it. Stealing involves cheating on a test or paper at school, keeping the change when you’re given too much, or calling in sick at work when you’re not.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employee dishonesty costs American businesses over $50 billion annually. And one of every three business failures are the direct result of employee theft. (Bob Mather, Employee theft: Prevention Beats Apprehension; www.PreachingToday.com)
Petty theft may seem to be a little thing, but it creates big problems.
The movie Cinderella Man tells the true story of boxing legend James J. Braddock (played by Russell Crowe), who made an incredible comeback during the Great Depression. Injured and arthritic, Braddock's promising career was cut short, and he had to go on public assistance when he couldn't get work at the docks in New Jersey.
During this time of need, his son, Jay, steals a salami from the butcher to help feed the family. When Jim gets back from another unsuccessful day of trying to find work, he finds out what his son has done and takes immediate action. Take a look… (Show Cinderella Man – Stealing Sausage video from WingClips.com)
Without pause they go straight to the butcher and turn in the stolen meat. Then Jim walks his son home and listens to his boy's concern that he will be sent away to distant relatives because they don't have enough food.
When Jim hears his boy's fears, he stops right there on the sidewalk for a heart-to-heart talk:
“Yeah, well things ain't easy at the moment, Jay,” he tells his son. “But there's a lot of people worse off than we are. And just cuz' things ain't easy, that doesn't give you the excuse to take what's not yours, does it? That's stealing, right? And we don't steal. No matter what happens we don't steal. Not ever. You got me?”
Then Jim gets down on his knees and looks eye to eye with his son. “Are you giving me your word?”
Little Jay says, “Yes, I promise.”
Then Jim shakes his son's hand and says, “And I promise you we will never send you away.”