Summary: This study looks at stealing with a particular focus on modern ways in which people are guilty of this sin.
Today, we are going to discuss a topic that is straight-forward. We are going to discuss a topic that all of us can understand. We are going to look at a sin that has been around since the Garden of Eden, that being stealing.
Stealing is simply taking anything that does not belong to us. It is taking something that we have no permission to have. It does not matter what the item is or how valuable, to take anything that does not belong to us is stealing and stealing, according to God, is wrong!
Every day, almost 22 thousand theft crimes are reported. That translates to slightly more than 7 million theft cases reported each year. The total value of property taken amounts to about 5 billion dollars. Cases where force is used in the act of stealing - which is called robbery - amount to a half million a year and involve property value taken in the area of 500 million dollars. When it comes to breaking into a house or business to steal - which is called burglary - there are 2 million reported cases each year and the value of property taken is estimated at 3.5 million dollars.
To combine all those statistics together, we are talking about ten million reported cases a year of people stealing property from somebody else at a cost of about ten billion dollars.
Even though those figures are high, the reality is that the vast majority of cases where someone steals some-thing that belongs to another goes unreported.
There are two primary reasons why most cases of stealing go unreported to the police.
1. There are numerous cases where a member of one’s family will steal from another member of the family. Or, a so-called friend will steal something from a friend. Because the victims do not want to get the person - who they care about - in trouble with the law, they don’t report the theft.
Maybe you know of an instance where a family member has stolen something that belongs to another family member. Maybe some money, a credit card, some clothing, a book, CD or a video. Maybe you know of a friend who has stolen from a friend. Maybe you have been guilty or have been the victim.
What needs to be realized is that stealing is an act of hate. Paul explains this in Romans 13:9-10, “For this, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.”
Paul says that if you truly love someone, you would never steal from them because true love does no harm to that person. When you love someone, you will treat them the same way that you would have them treat you.
I doubt that anyone of us desires to have our money or possessions stolen from us. To take money or anything else that belongs to another is an act of hate rather than love. If we love our family and our friends, we will never steal anything from them. (As Christians, we are to love everyone; therefore, to steal from anyone is sin.)
2. The second reason why most cases of stealing go unreported to the police is that the victim is unaware of their being stolen from or the victim doesn’t go to the hassle of reporting the incident.
What the thief often forgets is that while they may not get caught stealing by the victim they are stealing from or by the police, God knows their every action. Another person may not catch us stealing, but God already has.
Isaiah 29:15, “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, "Who sees us?" or "Who knows us?"
Psalm 33:13-14, “The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth.”
Ecclesiastes 12:14, “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
You might be able to hide your stealing from other people but you cannot hide it from God. Toward the end of our lesson, we will discuss God’s punishment for stealing.
For the remainder of my lesson, I want to talk about some common ways that people are guilty of stealing in this 21st Century.
The fastest growing crime in the United States is Identity Theft. Identity theft can range from fraudulent charges on an existing credit card account to the use of a person’s identity to open a new account, take out a loan, rent an apartment or commit a crime.