Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Is It Possible to Steal without Knowing It?

The Bible says, "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15). Stealing is taking without permission what belongs to somebody else. It can involve tangible and intangible things. Stealing would include thefts from households, shoplifting, pilfering, industrial espionage, embezzlement, and similar acts.

Dishonesty of all sorts, including stealing, has reached epidemic levels in society. Many Christians are involved in stealing without knowing it. It is possible, for instance, even to steal time. In most businesses the payroll is the biggest expense. Yet studies have shown that the average worker gives perhaps thirty-two to thirty-three hours a week instead of forty. When long lunch hours or time spent at the coffee machine, gazing out the window, or visiting with neighbors are added up, the amount is staggering.

It is true, too, that people are careless with the use of company stamps, stationery, paper clips, tools, and parts. This is stealing. In one factory, where many hand tools were disappearing, management decided to have a search of the employees as they left for home at the end of the work day. When this announcement was made, as the workers were preparing to exit, there was the sound of metal dropping all over the yard. Because the workers did not want to get caught, they just dropped stolen wrenches, hammers, and screwdrivers, leaving the yard littered with tools.

People do not pay their bills on time, denying interest to the companies they owe. People take merchandise home and use it and then return it as if it had never been used. People borrow books and tools and never return them.

Not correcting clerks when they undercharge one for goods purchased is stealing. Claiming credit for someone else's work or achievement is a form of stealing. Company officers who divert corporate opportunities to their own personal gain are stealing. God desires complete honesty from His people. Any form of stealing should be forsaken as not worthy of God's children.

Excerpt taken from Answers to 200 of Life's Most Probing Questions, Copyright 1984 by Pat Robertson. 

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