Thou Shalt Not Steal

The eighth of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not steal.” But many of us Christians are breaking this commandment, perhaps without even realizing it.

Soup bowls have been disappearing from the church kitchen. The last inventory check shows that the loss amounts to 200 dollars. One time a large rice cooker disappeared. I do not believe that people actually intended to steal these things. They were probably just borrowing them and forgot to return them. But from the kitchen staff’s point of view, they are as good as stolen.

A lot of other things are disappearing as well. Bowls, spoons, and knives from the kitchen. Pens, scissors, and staplers from the church office. Hammers, pliers and flashlights from the tool shack. Extension cords and ladders from the storage rooms. Again, I don’t think people intentionally stole these things, they just didn’t return the items after using them. Still, as far as the church is concerned, when things are supposed to be some place and they aren’t there when needed, they’re as good as stolen.

Honestly, it’s a poor excuse when people who take these items defend themselves by saying that they didn’t steal; they just didn’t return them. It’s as lame as the excuse made by someone who was arrested for stealing a cow. He explained, “I found a cord of rope on the road and took it home. The cow just happened to be tied to the other end the rope.”

If you want to be sure not to break the 8th Commandment, do not take anything from church at all, even to borrow. If you must borrow something, make sure to return it as soon as you are finished with it. If you need to keep it for a while, make sure you leave a note with your name and number, so someone who’s looking for it will know where it is. Again, if the church cannot find something it needs, it is as good as being stolen.

Besides the financial loss, what distresses me more is the fact that all this is happening in the church. Jesus said the church is his body. So all the things that belong to the church must belong to our Lord. I wonder if it’s a lack of reverence for him that leads to all this stealing.

I have heard that church members reflect the character of their pastor. So I wondered if I was the cause for this stealing. After some reflection I realized that I have stolen things from church as well: batteries. As you might know, the wireless microphones we use during our Sunday worship services require 9-volt batteries. We throw them away after just one use. However, after some shorter, special services such as deacon ordinations, there is some power left in the batteries. So in the past I have collected the used batteries and taken them home for personal use. But taking batteries from the church office became a habit, so when I needed them and there weren’t used ones available, I sometimes took fresh batteries. I will never do this again.

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