28 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.
I’ve heard before that stealing is fear that God will not provide what we need when we need it. Certainly, when we first read this verse we think about material things: money, food, cars, etc. All the heist movies of today certainly dramatize thievery into an enjoyable and intense spectacle. It even spins the story around so you cheer for the one stealing the goods, like The Italian Job. Let’s look deeper than the superficial material things.
Time: How often do we steal time from others? Think about the time we selfishly take for ourselves that could be used for others. I’m not even talking in a “condemning” way like you should use your time more wisely to read the bible to blind children. I’m talking about how much time you take away from your spouse, from your kids, from your friends and family because you are indulging in other selfish things. Have you ever spent time with someone but your mind was somewhere else? Have you been consumed with lustful thinking when spending time with a loved one? Most addictions occupy our minds more than we think. As a recovered nicotine addict, I remember planning out my day for when I could have the next hit. I would “sacrificially” offer to drive to the store to get my wife (at the time, my girlfriend) something but secretly it was so I could get my fix during the drive. In reality, she didn’t really need it and I could have used that time to stay with her.
Love: Do you come home from work tired and worn out, only wishing for sleep, quiet, and rest, yet your spouse, 3 kids and the dog are all competing for your attention? You sit there and build a stupid house out of legos with your kid the whole time thinking about what your boss said to you earlier in the day and you keep looking at the clock thinking about when you will get to go to bed? Did you miss that opening your child gave you with a nonchalant question that could give way to a conversation about an important life lesson?
Spiritual growth: Do you choose to do something “fun” instead of reading God’s Word daily? Is your family suffering because you aren’t living up to the example that God has called you to? Certainly, the man is to be the spiritual leader of the house but a marriage is a team. If the wife has no clue what the husband is talking about, then she cannot help him co-lead the household.
When someone steals out of selfishness, they are not willing to give any of it up. Remember before we discussed that it is about the heart condition, the heart behind the action, not the action itself that matters. If you are selfish in these things, then you are stealing from others because you are not giving them what they need or deserve. As you give, so shall you receive. Those who work hard for these things will receive more in return, so that they will be able to bless others with it.
The more time you devote to others, the more time you will receive to continue giving to others. The more love you give to others, the more love you will receive. The more spiritual growth you strive for, the more knowledge and understanding and wisdom you will inherit according to the riches of God so that you may share it and enrich others’ lives.
What are you stealing today that you can give back?