Summary: The eighth commandment: Do not steal. Details many ways that stealing has become commonplace. Christians should not steal, but work for their needs and for others


In New York City, there are eight million cats and eleven million dogs. New York City is basically just concrete and steel, so when your pet dies, you can’t just go out in the back yard and bury it. The city would dispose of your dead pet, but charged $50

So one lady had this great thought: I can get rid of dead pets for less than that! I’d be providing a service to people in the city and saving them money. She placed an ad in the newspaper saying that she would provide this service for just $25 – half what the city charged.

Her plan for disposal was brilliant. She would go to the Salvation Army and pay 2 bucks for an old suitcase. Then, she’d pick up the dearly departed pet and put it in the suitcase.

She’d hop on the subway, put the suitcase down, and act like she wasn’t watching it.

Invariably, a thief would come by and steal her suitcase.

Not only did she save money for grieving pet owners, but she may have rehabilitated a thief or two!

This woman was able to use the prevalence of theft to her advantage, but most of us aren’t so fortunate.

The cover of the July 14th issue of U. S. News & World Report has a picture of an All-American teenage boy wearing a pair of headphones –looking pretty much like millions of teenage boys in any city and town in america. The caption says, “Wanted.” And in smaller letters, asks “Got a digital pirate in your house? Got a lawyer?”

If you’ve listened to much news lately, you know that the entertainment industry has decided to crack down on an extremely popular practice that goes by the seemingly-innocent name, “file sharing.”

Sharing is normally a good thing – like if I have two cookies and I give you one. But “File sharing” looks more like this: I get a music CD, put the songs on my computer’s hard drive, and with the right software – which I got for free on the Internet – I can “share” them over the Internet with anyone who might want them.

And, of course, I also have access to the files of millions of others who are doing the same thing.

Most PC’s are able to then burn or write the music to a blank CD, or I can just play it an MP3 player – a device designed to play back music files without having to write it to a CD. Since millions of people are doing the same thing, I could get pretty much the music I wanted the same way. So, why buy CD’s at 15-20 bucks a pop when I can get all the music on them for free? Even if it is illegal.

Now that more and more PC’s have the ability to read and write DVD’s, file sharing has expanded to include movies. It’s estimated that 400-600,000 copies of films are traded digitally every day – Many movies are available on the Internet before they hit the theaters, thanks to illegally copied pre-release versions which are offered to the press.

The U.S. News & World Report story quotes Vik, a 21- year old college senior from Baltimore on “file sharing” music, “For all practical purposes, it is stealing music, but I have no moral qualms about it. When you can get free music, it’s hard to resist.”

Vik is able to say, “It’s stealing (and presumably, that makes it wrong)” and at the same time say, “I have no moral qualms about [doing] it.”

He says, “It’s hard to resist,” but apparently means, “I have no intention of even TRYING to resist!”

Mark, a college student from Geneva, Ill, “When you go out and buy a CD, it’s $5 more than it was a few years ago. I can’t afford to quench my [music] habit because it’s too expensive.”

Mark’s argument is just, “If I can’t afford everything I want right now, I’ll just steal it.”

Having failed miserably in many attempts to thwart the work of file-sharing software and the companies that produce them, the recording industry is now trying to sue the pirates themselves. But it’s no small task – one source I read estimated the number of people practicing file sharing is around 60 million in America alone. And as the music industry develops smarter ways to crack down on pirates, the pirates develop smarter ways to avoid getting caught.

The illegal distribution of copyrighted music, movies and software, is just one of many forms of stealing that has become popular in our day.

As I was doing research for this sermon, I’ve become convinced that stealing has become the “Great American Pastime.” Not so much the “Stick ‘em up and give me all your cash” kind of stealing, but statistics show every form of stealing that can be done in secret is skyrocketing. Here are some examples:

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