You shall not steal.

Exodus 20:15


The lock on your front door is (ahem) pathetic.  It keeps honest people from stealing.  Time Magazine says, Around 1% of people would never steal, another 1% will always try to steal, and the rest of us are “pretty honest as long as we’re not easily tempted… even pathetic door locks remove the temptation from most of us.

Think of it this way: lots of people steal office supplies — staplers, pens, paper — but very few of those same people would steal the equivalent amount from petty cash.  We have our standards, after all.

A bunch of golfers were asked, “Which illegal move of a golf ball would make you the most uncomfortable?”:

  • Using a club
  • Using a foot
  • Using a hand

The overwhelming consensus said using a club is way better than a hand.  I’m no golfer (I might have tipped a golf cart over once), but it’s true, we are more willing to steal when the action isn’t hands-on.  (pun fully intended)  But, um, has anyone noticed that if it’s a hand OR a foot OR a club the result is the EXACT same?

So when is the last time you stole something?  If you’re my 3 year old son, Sawyer, it was yesterday — and probably the day before too.  He’s been pocketing small toys from kindergarten, like worn match box cars and plastic trinkets.  He runs into our house, announces “MOMMY, DON’T WATCH ME!”, and immediately hides his new treasures behind the sofa pillows (where I’ll clearly never-ever find them).  We’ve talked through this, and have together returned the items again and again.

Our littlest is in good company.  We can add his plunder to the other $119 billion that was stolen from American stores in last year.  I assumed baby formula and razor blades would make the Top-10 list of items taken, since they’re now under lock-n-key in many stores, but I’ve gotta say that “Let’s Rock Elmo” and Filet Mignon sort of surprised me.

This week I’ve been thinking of what I’ve stolen.  Once, while babysitting, I took a “small” bottle of Estee Lauder Perfume from the mom’s bathroom. (knowing myself, I’ll be hunting down that mom this week to send her a bottle with my sincere apologies… another tough by-product of asking the Father to teach me hard lessons).  I took a “purple hooters” shot glass from a bar with my sorority sisters (?).  So far it doesn’t seem too daunting a list.  But I’m not close to being done yet…

There’s also the BIG ONE.  The one that hurts:  Piracy.  Illegal Downloads.  Shared Music Libraries.  Plagiarism.

Here’s a sobering thought: the Institute for Policy Innovation released data stating that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, equivalent to 71,060 U.S. jobs.

But this is “small time” stuff.  I wouldn’t make you feel badly because of these mini-sins.

Or would I?

The greatest threat to our moral compass today is the fact that WE CAN “GET AWAY” EASIER THAN EVER WITH SIN.  And it’s entirely “JUSTIFIABLE”.  BUT the truth is there is no “MINI SIN”.  And, yes, that does seem rather unfair.

God is not like the government.  When He gives us a law He says things like: “You. Shall. Not. Steal.”

Simple.  Clear.  Inarguable.

There’s no section 8.1.4(a) to this eighth commandment, permitting one to steal Taylor Swift’s music on the condition that you could REALLY use a dance party pick-me-up today.

AND it doesn’t end there.

God says this about Satan: “The THIEF comes only to STEAL and kill and destroy…” John 10:10.  THAT, my friends, is the company we keep when we fall short on this commandment.  The sworn enemy of the Father, and of US.

Satan aims to steal absolutely everything — things like our joy, purpose, identity, promises, confidence, and destiny.  And once he’s stripped us of as much as he can get his claws on, he seeks to seal our fate and steal our eternity.

“You Shall NOT Steal”:  It’s not just about shot glasses, filet mignon, downloads, or even ruby red Porsches.  Satan isn’t the the only one who’s good at robbing from us.  We are his well-trained pros.  You can envision God having hands and feet, right?  Well, the enemy has a body, too.

Consider how far removed from “using your hands” you’ve become and how actively you put that “golf club” into use.

We can justify taking a few envelopes from work, same as we can justify flipping off the guy who just cut us off.  We can spread gossip about someone who isn’t there because we don’t have to look them in the eyes when we say it.  We can complain about our church to our small group because that’s a “safe place” to share our heart.

What are we doing??  We’re Stealing — People’s reputations, confidence, momentum, and much much more.

So let me ask again:  When is the last time you stole something?

Just as I guide my son by the hand when we return the things he’s taken to their rightful owners, it’s time for our hand to be led by our Father, speaking words of LIFE, ENCOURAGEMENT, & SUPPORT.  Giving back what we’ve stolen.