My daughter is a distance runner. Last Saturday, I attended the first invitational track and field meet of the season. There were many schools there with hundreds of runners, discus throwers, shot put hurlers, hurdlers, pole vaulters, and distance jumpers all over the grounds of Reid Ross Classical School in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The stands were filled with parents, friends, and local media. In other words, there were A LOT of people in one particular spot.
It was an day-long event, so I packed snacks and bottled water in my Cool Cube Cooler. During Claire’s first race, I left my spot on the a hill near the end zone of the stadium so I could stand beside the track and cheer her on during her final lap. Afterwards, I realized that I had left the cooler and several other personal items unattended at top of the hill. At first I panicked, but everything was right where I’d left it. Nothing had been touched.
For the rest of the day, I purposely let the cooler sit on that hilltop and watched from a seat not too far away. It was an experiment of sorts in human nature. Not once in the six hours that we were at the meet did anyone touch the cooler. In fact, I don’t remember seeing anyone even eyeing it. It made me think. Either my little blue cooler wasn’t worth enough to any potential thieves that were walking about or there were a lot of trustworthy people at that track and field meet. (Maybe it was a bit of both.)
That led me to ponder this question: how do you recognize a thief? What characteristics do you notice that would lead you to believe that a person isn’t trustworthy: shifty eyes? a nervous tic? a stocking over the face? a masked man? a person brandishing a gun at the bank teller?
Or does a thief look like someone we don’t really want to recognize? Perhaps a thief looks like the person you see in the mirror each morning more than you’d care to admit. Perhaps you are a thief. I know I am.
You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? Romans 2:21b (NASB)
Though I’ve never put on mask or held up a bank, but I am a thief. Let me tell you what I’ve stolen:
I have failed to tithe. God says to give back a tenth of what He gives me. “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8 (NASB) Nine-tenths for me, one-tenth for God…and yet I have withheld what He requires from me. THAT MAKES ME A THIEF!
I have failed to give my employer 100% of my talents and efforts. What if I was tired or lazy and I filled classroom time with puzzles, movies or television that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with curriculum? What if I left ten minutes before my shift was over at Wendy’s? What if I took credit for something of which a fellow worker should have received recognition? Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB) I committed all three of the above-mentioned offenses. THAT MAKES ME A THIEF!
I have kept things that God meant for someone else to have. That size 4 pair of dress pants that I’ll never wear again could be just the item the woman could us at the Operation Blessing clothes closet to complete her interview outfit for the job she so desperately needs. All those Beanie Babies I have in storage could be perfect toys for children who have none. The dollar in my wallet is exactly what the man ahead of me at Food Lion needs when he’s short 98 cents for a gallon of milk. Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:37-40 (NASB) I haven’t been generous with others. THAT MAKES ME A THIEF!
Grievously, I haven’t spent enough time in prayer, Bible study, witnessing, and serving. I have filled the hours of my day with housework, television, reading, phone calls, and visits until I am exhausted and have no time for God. I have gone shopping instead of lending my time and efforts for clean-up day at church. When I see that people are not in church, I haven’t made time to call or visit to let them know they were missed. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:3-5 (NLT) I have stolen from myself the opportunity to be God’s covenant holder. Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers. Galatians 6:10 (GWT) I have stolen the opportunity to serve others with the love of the Lord. THAT MAKES ME A THIEF!
Lastly, I am sometimes slow to repent. When I am stubborn, I act as if I’ve done nothing wrong. When I am ashamed, I hope that God will just overlook the offense. When I sin unknowingly and I don’t ask God to show me those sins of which I’m unaware, then I’m not just not being a smart cookie. Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Psalm 32:1 (NLT) Lack of repentance robs God of the opportunity to “wash me white as snow.” It also robs me of a chance to humble myself, bask in His forgiveness, and have a renewed relationship with the Most High God. THAT MAKES ME A THIEF!
I don’t know what I would’ve done if someone had actually picked up my little blue cooler and made off with it. All I know is that while I was waiting to see what happened, God sent the Holy Spirit to work on my own thieving heart. And like the thief who was crucified with Christ, I know I’m forgiven and will one day see paradise.
Photo Credit: www.sodahead.com
Image Credits: http://clementpearl.blogspot.com/2010/02/thief-on-cross.html
Related Articles: “Parents, Are You Stealing From Your Children?” http://bradkelly.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/parents-are-you-stealing-from-your-children/
“Biship Zubik’s Stolen Cross – Thou Shalt Not Steal” http://catholibertarian.com/2011/05/26/bishop-zubiks-stolen-cross-thou-shalt-not-steal/