Summary: There's soemthing inside of us that fascinates us with the concept of getting something for nothing.
Let’s start this morning by taking a little informal survey.
-Anyone here ever had money stolen from them?
-Ok, how about tools, anyone ever have tools stolen, how about borrowed and not returned? -Anyone ever have a bicycle stolen.
-Anyone ever have a car stolen. -What about having something stolen from your car. -Anyone here ever have their home broken into?
There is something intensely personal about having an object stolen from you, it is a violation and you feel hurt and confused. Who would do something like this? Maybe you felt angry. Anger is often an emotion that you feel after you’ve been violated. So to a certain degree I understand the sign that was posted that said, “This property is protected by a pit bull with aids”
Here’s the flip side, a little more personal here.
-How many people here have ever stolen? Now I realize that I’m asking the wrong crowd, but maybe if we look into the distant past. Maybe candy as a child, or money from your mother’s purse or father’s wallet.
-Or maybe it was a toy from a store?
-Maybe it was office supplies from work, or a little creative accounting on your tax return.
-Or maybe, it was taking a grape and eating it in the produce section of HEB. Anyone fall into those categories? Could I say today that everyone here falls into one of those two categories as having been stolen from or has stolen from someone else?
We all have something lurking inside of us that is fascinated with the concept of getting something for nothing. Something that lives deep inside that says “Boy, if I could get that for nothing that would be great,” which explains why so many shoplifters who are caught don’t need to shoplift. They aren’t doing it out of necessity they are doing it for the thrill. And so God is saying here, “Don’t let that desire to get something for nothing win out.”
And so here we are at the eighth commandment, part of a series that we started back almost in the last century as we have been looking at the Guidelines for Christianity. Do you think that this commandment doesn’t apply to you? You don’t consider yourself a thief? But if you think back a few weeks ago, you didn’t think that you were a murderer either.
On the cover of an old Saturday Evening Post is a picture of an encounter in a butcher shop. A woman shopper and a butcher face each other with a turkey on the scales between them. Each has the smile of someone who is in on a private joke. A careful look shows the butcher’s heavy thumb on the scales, while the customer pushes up on them with a forefinger.
Were they thieves? Neither would rob a bank or steal a car. Each would resent it if accused of stealing, but neither saw anything wrong with a deception worth only a few cents for either of them.
In United States department stores, pilferage exceeds $4 billion a year. One estimate says that of every fifty-two customers a day one carries away at least one unpaid-for item, and the number is rising. Then there are the tax cheats, the double-dippers on welfare, the millions stolen through telephone and computer misuse, and those who steal from their employers.
Schemes, scams and swindles are a way of life today. Sophisticated deal makers like several recent high-powered executives, and penny-ante con artists invade every community.
A man on crutches hobbled over to a passerby and asked for money. The pedestrian handed him a dollar bill with the remark, “Cheer up. It would be much worse if you were blind.” “I know,” he responded. “I was blind last week and kept getting phony money!” Every rip-off costs you and me. Honest consumers pay the price for this dishonesty and cheating, and covering the cost is no bargain!
Probably the most graphic of all of Jesus’ parables is the parable of the Good Samaritan. The story begins in Luke 10:30: A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. The robbers’ attitude was, “What’s yours is mine: I’ll take it.”
That’s the attitude of the businessperson who pads an expense account. Those who cheat on their income tax, or purchase goods on credit with no possibility or intention of paying for them are also guilty. Cheating on a test robs other students as well as yourself. “You’ve worked hard for your score, but what’s yours is mine, and I will take the grade I don’t deserve.”
It’s a pervasive attitude. A wife complained to her husband one evening, “The housekeeper has stolen two of our brand new towels.” He replied, “Well, some people are just like that. Which ones did she take?” The wife said, “The ones we took from the hotel on our last vacation.”