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Exodus 20:15 THOU SHALT NOT STEAL
Intro: Many are the lives that have been touched by theft.
Millions 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 havent paid. According
to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 4 million people are caught shoplifting
every year. But for every one caught, 35 others get away with it. This means
that there are over 140 million incidents of shoplifting every year in America!
Whats really tragic is that only 10% of all shoplifters come from low
incomes. 70% are middle class and 20% are classified as wealthy.
These facts are astounding! America appears to be a country
of thieves. I suppose that if everyone who was guilty of theft were arrested,
there would be no jails to hold them, nor arresting officers to lock them up!
One new hotel reported that in their 10 months of operation, they lost 38,000
spoon, 18,000 towels, 355 silver coffee pots, 1,500 silver finger bowls and
100 Bible to thieves.
Regardless of the reason, stealing is wrong! God, in these
verses condemns it and declares it to be a sin. Tonight, I would like for us
to take some time to look at the 8th Commandment and consider what
stealing really is, as we think together on this thought, "Thou shalt not
I. STEALING IS A VIOLATION OF THE LAW
A. The Correct Means Of Getting Gain
God has authorized two primary methods by which people can legitimately increase
their possession. When we engage in these 2 areas of getting gain, we are
doing it the right way. Notice what they are.
1. As A Reward For Work Contrary to
popular belief, work is not a curse! It is a means, ordained by God, whereby
people can obtain the resources they need to function in the world. In fact,
work is glorified by God 2 Thes. 3:10.
(Ill. One evening a man saw his neighbor, a famous author,
carrying coal into his house. The neighbor told him that it was undignified
for a man of his social standing to be seen carrying coal. The famous author
replied, "Any man who is ashamed to carry his own coal deserves to
sit all winter by an empty fireplace.")
Gods will is that we obtain the things in life we
need by the labor of our hands!
2. By The Reception Of A Gift Another
legitimate means of increasing our possessions is by the generosity of another.
Some one may give us a gift, or we may receive and inheritance, or we may
be the beneficiary of a will or insurance policy. These are all legitimate
ways of getting gain. There is nothing wrong with receiving things from
others. Often, God may choose to bless your life in this way.
B. The Corrupt Means Of Getting Gain
This is by taking that which does not belong to us as our own. Also know as
stealing. God has condemned this practice and has declared that His children
should leave it behind with the other works of the flesh Eph. 4:28.
II. STEALING IS A VIOLATION OF A LOYALTY
A. As An Employee Employee theft costs
companies billions of dollars every year, somewhere in the neighborhood of
$120 billion. According to USA Today, 48 % of all American workers took something
from an employer last year. People do this by taking thing home, selling things
without their employers knowledge and pocketing the money, taking kickbacks,
falsifying time records, wasting time while at work, etc.
(Ill. Many years ago a young lad in a small village was
working in a general store when a man entered and ordered some cloth. Observing
that the owner of the establishment wasn't there, the customer suggested
the boy cheat a little and give him an extra yard or two. "It'll be
all right, son," he said. "No one will ever know about it. Your
master isn't in." Looking somewhat stunned, the youngster quickly replied,
"Oh, but you're mistaken, sir. My Master is always in! You see, I'm
a Christian." He was conscious of the indwelling presence of the Holy
(Ill. After F. E. Marsh preached on this subject, a young
man came to him and said, "Pastor, you have put me in a bad fix. I've
stolen from my employer, and I'm ashamed to tell him about it. You see,
I'm a boat builder, and the man I work for is an unbeliever. I have often
talked to him about Christ, but he only laughs at me. In my work, expensive
copper nails are used because they won't rust in water. I've been taking
some of them home for a boat I am building in my backyard. I'm afraid if
I tell my boss what I've done and offer to pay for them, he'll think I'm
a hypocrite, and I'll never be able to reach him for Christ. Yet, my conscience
Later when the man saw the preacher again, he exclaimed,
"Pastor, I've settled that matter and I'm so relieved." "What
happened when you told your boss?" asked the minister. "Oh, he
looked at me intently and said, 'George, I've always thought you were a
hypocrite, but now I'm not so sure. Maybe there's something to your Christianity
after all. Any religion that makes a man admit he's been stealing a few
copper nails and offer to settle for them must be worth having.'")
Anytime we take things that are not ours from an employer,
we are guilty of stealing. Whether it is time, or materials, the result
is the same! Notice what God has to say to employees Col. 3:22-24;
Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 23:13-16.
B. As An Employer When employees are
underpaid, over worked and treated badly, this too is a form of stealing!
God has certain principles, which are to be followed by employers Col.
4:1. However, I am of the opinion that there is less theft among employers
than there is among employees!
C. In Our Ethics Often, we are guilty
of stealing in various area of our lives. Things like taxes, keeping our word,
honoring our debts, borrowing things and not returning them. When we are obligated
to do something, we should do it! When we dont, we have stolen. When
we owe a debt, or taxes etc, then we also must pay that, or, again, we are
guilty of stealing before God.
(Ill. One Sunday morning, Charles Finney preached a message
entitled The Sin Of Borrowing Things And Not Returning Them. He said, "When
I went to my toolshed yesterday with some men on hand to do some work, I
found it practically empty. President Mahan had borrowed my plow and never
sent it back. Professor Morgan had sent for my spade and I havent
seen it since. Deacon Beecher has had one of my monkey wrenches for so long
a time that the memory of man cannot recall how long ago it was borrowed.
What does it mean? It means that there are some among the best of us such
a carelessness concerning our fundamental everyday obligations." The
sermon was extremely effective. The next morning before dawn, one neighbor
trying to bring back a workhorse had to be rescued from Finneys dog.
All the rest of the morning, there was a steady stream of the neighbors
kids bringing back borrowed tools. They ever returned things that were not
What the Lord wants us to see is that when we owe something,
whether it be our money or just the fulfillment of our word, He expects
us to make it right!)
III. THE VIOLATION OF A HEAVENLY LOVE
(Ill. There is one more form of stealing that many are guilty
of tonight. There is no law of man against it, yet it is far more terrible
than these other forms mentioned. It is the idea that a man can steal from
God. Just the thought that man would steal from God is amazing. Lets
see how it is done.)
A. The Stealing Of The Tithe Notice
what Malachi says about the tithe Mal. 3:8-10. God sys that when we
hold back that which belongs to the Lord, then we are guilty of stealing from
God. Now, when we think of all that He has given us. How He loves us and how
He saved us by His grace, how can a person with any sense at all condone stealing
from the Lord? (Ill. We rob God when we do not give Him what is His, or when
we use what is His for our own purposes. The tithe is not ours to use!)
(Ill. You might rob a man, your employer, a bank or shoplift
from a store and get away with it here. But, my friends, you will never
rob God and get away with it. He will get what is His!)
(Ill. A Pastor related that he heard a pastor friend say
that he had to visit a church member at the hospital. The first pastor asked
him what she was having done. The second replied, "Oh, shes just
having here tithe removed." That happens to a lot of people! If you
give God what belongs to Him, He will give you what you need. Are you as
faithful with the Lords money as you should be? We need to remember
that none of us has the right to all that we earn. 100% belongs to God,
but 10% (at least) is to be dedicated to His work, and is to be given through
His storehouse, 1 Cor. 16:2. When we follow His plan, we will prosper
2 Cor. 9:1-7)
B. The Stealing Of Time You and I have
been allotted only so much time in this world. If we waste that time instead
of using it for the glory of the Lord, we are guilty of theft! Are you using
your time as you should?
C. The Stealing Of Titles - (Ill. There is
also the matter of Lordship. We are guilty of stealing when we hold back areas
of our lives from His Lordship. When we try to exercise control over our own
lives, instead of giving Him the place of supremacy, then we are guilty of
stealing from the Lord.)
D. The Stealing Of Talents The Bible
is clear when it tells us that when we are saved, we are given certain gifts
from the Heavenly Father 1 Cor. 12:7-27. When we fail to exercise our
God given gifts and talents, we are guilty of stealing from the Lord. When
we fail to fill our place in His body, we are thieves and robbers. Our lives
are gifts and they are to be invested for the glory of God.
Conc: If we were honest tonight, most, if not all, would have
to admit that they were guilty of stealing in one form or another. If this is
the case in your life, then God has a word for you. According to the Word of
God, when we steal, we are to repay Eze. 33:15-16. We are to practice
restitution to those we have wronged. Whether it is an employer, a neighbor
or even God. We are to make it right, whatever the cost!
(Ill. At Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78, George Washington
and his troops were in utterly desperate straits. He appealed to the government
of Pennsylvania for help. Jacob DeHaven, a staunch believer in the revolutionary
cause, lived near Valley Forge. hearing of Washington's appeal, he loaned him
$50,000 in gold and $400,000 in supplies.
The army survived the winter, but after the war DeHaven was
never repaid. Now his descendants are trying to collect. They claim that the
loan, compounded at 6% interest daily, amounts to $141.6 billion.
In one sense, all the money in the world could never repay
DeHaven for what he did. In reality, he saved the cause of freedom for all America.
There's another debt all of us owe that we can never repay.
It is the price Jesus Christ paid to give us liberty from the bondage of sin.)
Gods will is that His people never resort to stealing,
and if we are guilty, then we need to make restitution. Thou shalt not steal!
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