Four little words, right there, in the Ten Commandments, simple to adhere to right? Well, let me tell you a story:
Some time ago now, while waiting for a flight, I was doing one of my favourite things, enjoying a lovely cup of coffee. I like a particular chain of coffee shops that put their brand name on their cups. As I was sipping my drink I noticed a young man doing the same whilst reading the Bible. I was impressed at the confidence he had in his faith so that he was comfortable to display his Christianity in this non-Christian country. He finished his drink and then glancing around, as if to see if anyone was looking, quickly wrapped the cup and saucer in tissues, put them in his bag and walked away.
To my shame, I was incensed. I was so surprised I did nothing, but instantly was furious with him. Didn’t he know the Bible says, ‘you shall not steal?’ What a bad witness. How could he let God down like that? At this point I heard a loving challenge from God, “plank and speck, Alison, plank and speck”. Luke 6:41 says ‘And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?’ Instantly convicted, I repented for judging the man and forgave him, and then asked the Lord to open my eyes on the subject of stealing.
Maybe it’s easy to see the sin of stealing in the big and obvious things like shop lifting or robbing a bank, and of course we can rub our halos because we don’t do that. But what about the thing of taking property belonging to a coffee shop or a hotel towel or picking up a book from a display and ‘forgetting to pay?’ Have our consciences become dulled because we even start to justify that ‘they expect this to happen,’ ‘they have insurance,’ or ‘they budget for these things?’
As the Lord opened my eyes further I could see how we might steal from each other in so many ways. What about when we ask someone how they are but really don’t want to hear the answer, when we’re at our desk, but instead of working are having ‘just a few moments on the internet’, when we don’t expend that little bit of energy to smile at the person on the check-out, and when we make a personal phone call on the company bill? And in all of that I realised we could steal from the Lord too.
It wasn’t the coffee that opened my eyes that day, but the Lord. In His loving way He brought the challenge to the deeper walk of discipleship into focus. God is so interested in us He wants to help us with the fine detail of our lives and see us walking honourably in all things. As He brought things to my attention I turned right back to Him in repentance and received His forgiveness. He showed that the way forward is to love and give, just as His Son Jesus did.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for sending Your son Jesus to take away the sins of the world. Thank You that You are concerned for me as I walk each day and that Your greatest desire for me is to become more and more like Your son. Thank You for Your loving challenge. I’m truly sorry where I have in any way stolen from You, my family, friends, colleagues employers. I receive Your forgiveness. Please help me to become a giver of love and encouragement to others. Amen.
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