Monday, June 9, 2014

The problem of Stealing

I know this is preaching to the choir but I am totally irate about looting and thievery, especially where it concerns tornado victims! It is unconscionable that someone would go into the damaged homes of traumatized people and steal from them. What about "Thou shalt not steal" do they not understand?

This may be too much sugar for a nickel (that's what my mama would say), but I've been reviewing Scripture. I did a search for all the references using the word "steal" and found that there are more than enough for one familiar with Scripture to get the idea. In addition to the well know "Thou shalt not" in Exodus 20, there are some intriguing passages dealing with thievery. I thought you might find them interesting, too.

"If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep. "If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account. But if the sun has risen on him, there will be bloodguiltiness on his account. He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double. (Exodus 22:1-4 NASB)

"Men do not despise a thief if he steals To satisfy himself when he is hungry; But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house." (Proverbs 6:30, 31 NASB)

"He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need." (Ephesians 4:28 NASB)

Now, this last passage is especially interesting, because t is sandwiched between two very unexpected topics. 
"BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." (Ephesians 4:26, 27 NASB)

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29 NASB)

Did you catch that? Anger, stealing, and gossip are all lumped together in one passage. Perhaps we might need to look a little closer. Anger that leads to bitterness is a kind of stealing because it not only fractures relationships but also steals joy, peace, and the communion of friends. Unwholesome words could include gossip, which is certainly a stealing of reputation. Vulgar language is also unwholesome and can steal your own reputation.

This stealing business is more pervasive than I realized. Perhaps we should just go back to Exodus. Don't steal. 

Don't steal stuff.  Don't steal relationships. Don't steal reputations. 

Just don't do it.