# 8 Exodus 20:15 “You shall not steal.”
“Steal” – to take the property of another without permission or right (Webster)
Let’s start by taking a little informal survey. Have you ever had money stolen? Ever had a car stolen? What about having something stolen from your car? One time someone broke the window of Niki’s car and stole three CD’s. It cost more to fix the window than what was taken. Have you ever had your home broken into? There is something intensely personal about having an object stolen. It is a violation and we feel hurt, confused and angry.
Stealing creates victims. As we have suffered at the hand of a thief, we feel exposed, vulnerable and exploited.
There are 138 synonyms for synonyms for stealing. Here is a partial list:
Deceit – charging for work not done, adding to expenses, false advertising
“The Lord hates dishonest scales and dishonest weights” Prov. 20:23
When a repairman makes unnecessary repairs, a doctor makes unnecessary tests, a salesman skips over the fine print, when a car is sold and the problems are not shared this is form of stealing.
A law firm threw a surprise birthday party for one of its lawyers, on the cake was happy 80th birthday. The lawyer said. “I’m only forty, where did you get 80?” “Oh your secretary must have added up your billing hours!”
A salesman dies and is given a tour of heaven and hell, heaven looks nice, beautiful scenery, people picnicking, but in hell he sees people partying, getting drunk. He thinks that looks like more fun. He chooses hell. Next thing he knows, he’s being poked with a hot pitchfork and tormented. He exclaims this is not what I chose, the Devil says, “Oh, you must have seen the demo”
Seize. Using without permission, using and abusing another’s possession
They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud a man of his home, a fellowman of his inheritance. Therefore, the LORD says: “I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. Mic 2:2-3
Defraud – to deprive of something by deception
More than one-third of people hurt in auto accidents exaggerate their injuries, adding $13 – $18 billion to America’s annual insurance bill. (Rand Institute for Civil Justice)
PA’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority estimated that insurance fraud cost the average American household over $5,000 year in the form of higher premiums and higher prices for goods and services.
In a 1999 book, Michael Mortiarty said, “Workers around America frankly admit that they spend more than 20 percent of their time (seven hours a week) at work goofing off. That amounts to a four-day work week across the nation. When an employer is paying for our time and we come in late, leave early, take three coffee breaks and a long lunch it’s a form of stealing.
Almost half of Americans admit that they regularly call in sick when they’re not. One in six Americans regularly drinks or uses drugs on the job.
I read about one young man who went to look for a job at a place where they really weren’t looking to hire anyone. The conversation went something like this. Manager: “I’m sorry I can’t hire you, but there isn’t enough work to keep you busy.” Applicant: “You’d be surprised how little it takes.”
Embezzlement: The American economy loses $40 billion annually from theft on the job.
Withhold – hold back or deny
“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight.” Lev 19:13
If we owe someone money we need to pay it back.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue.” Rom. 13:6-7
Tax avoidance is good stewardship. There’s no reason we should overpay on taxes. Tax evasion is illegal. God says it’s stealing,
A man who had cheated the IRS out of hundreds of dollars developed a guilty conscience so that he couldn’t sleep. He wrote a check for $500 dollars and enclosed a note that said, “I underpaid my taxes last year and I’m feeling guilty. Please accept the enclosed payment I owe you. And, if I still can’t sleep, I’ll send you the rest that I owe you.”
Borrowing with no intention of paying back
‘The wicked borrow and do not repay” Ps 37:21
A lot of people have no intention of paying back. The worst loans are made to friends and relatives. This applies to anything, not just bankruptcy. Anything borrowed: Tools, skies, punch bowls. What is it in our garages you need to go home and return to somebody?
Thief – one who takes illegally by secret.
“A thief is disgraced when he is caught.” Jer 2:26
Billions of dollars are lost every year in this country over the theft of goods and services. One estimate says that 1 out of every 52 shoppers carries something out of the supermarket for which they haven’t paid. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 4 million people are caught shoplifting every year.
A couple in Chula Vista, California went on a shoplifting spree at a local discount store, swiping a variety of items from the store’s shelves, and hiding them in the baby carriage they were pushing. The haul got so big that the carriage finally collapsed, spilling couple’s baby onto the store floor, along with the loot. The baby wasn’t injured, but the commotion attracted the attention of store security officers, who made a quick arrest.
What’s shocking is that only 10% of all shoplifters come from low incomes. 70% are middle class and 20% are classified as wealthy.
America is a country of thieves. One new hotel reported that in their first ten months of operation they lost 38,000 spoons, 18,000 towels, 355 silver coffee pots, 1500 finger bowls and 100 Bibles.
Rob -to take illegally by force
True story from our dim-witted criminals department: A man walked into a convenience store, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving his $20 bill on the counter. So how much did he get from the drawer? Fifteen bucks.
“They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets; but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Hosea 7:1-2
A guy walked into a little corner store with a shotgun and demanded all of the cash from the cash drawer. After the cashier put the cash in a bag, the robber saw a bottle of Scotch that he wanted behind the counter on the shelf. He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well, but the cashier refused and said, “Because I don’t believe you are over 21.” The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him because he didn’t believe him. At this point, the robber took his driver’s license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk. The clerk looked it over and agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and he put the Scotch in the bag. The robber then ran from the store with his loot. The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and address of the robber that he got off the license. They arrested the robber two hours later.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi writes: “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse” Mal 3:8-9
God says if I’m not tithing then I’m paying my bills with stolen money that belongs to God.
We’ve taken what was supposed to be spent on God’s work, and we bought toys and trinkets, and bought houses and clothes and gone on vacation and bought computers with it and God says “I’ve been robbed”
I asked earlier about how you feel when you realize that you’ve been robbed. How would you feel if it was someone you knew, someone you trusted someone you loved, and someone you thought loved you? How much more would it hurt? Can you imagine how God feels when his own children defraud him? What if I came home with $100 dollars and I said, Kaleb you have been a good boy so I give him 90. Then all night he is mad because there is still $10 in my wallet. So he sneaks in while I am sleeping and takes the other $10. How would I feel about a son like that?
Cheat –conspire or sneak “Cursed is the cheat” Mal 1:14
In 1969, 58% of high school students let someone else copy their work, In 1989, 98% did so Almost 80% of college students admit to cheating at least once.
Pirate– copy illegally – any thing that is copy righted
It is our church policy to be legal in all we do. That’s why we pay an annual sum to CCLI, which gives us permission to print and display songs. We also have a CCVL, which gives us permission to show movie clips in church. For all small groups we either buy a book for each participant or we copy if we have permission. When someone says, “Let’s just buy one book for the small group and make copies.” That’s stealing. If they were to say, “It will save the church money!” Is that what we are all about? If that’s what we’re all about lets shoplift the donuts and coffee we need for Sundays! It would be a lot cheaper. Let’s shoplift the paper we need for bulletins! Let’s heist the sound equipment we need! While we’re at it, forget the offering let’s just rob the bank. It’s not a matter saving money or not getting caught, it’s wrong.
If you make a copy of a DVD or CD for a friend so they don’t have to buy it, it’s stealing.
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.
A cover of a 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?”
Notice That with Stealing God Will Take Action
With some sins, God gets involved. On the verses listed, we see that “God remembers”, “God will repay”, I am planning disaster, “they are under a curse” The Hebrew word for curse means to “take away” It’s not voodoo or anything. God chooses to bless and when he curses he removes his blessing. Like the in the Garden of Eden, it’s a garden, everything is blessed, it’s great, When Adam says I don’t think I’ll obey you. The ground is cursed, the blessing is removed. It makes things more difficult. Things will grow, but so will the weeds, thistles and thorns. When we choose to go our own way and disregard God’s way. We live in the absence of his blessing. It makes things a lot harder. We are living cursed instead of blessed.
When it comes to stealing, I’ll leave us with this statement: “I can live blessed or I can live cursed.” Which will we choose?