Yesterday Jenny and I went to her hairdresser for our monthly bonny chop (haircut). In talking to him, I mentioned that a friend of mine needs a haircut but his barber closed down during lock down. I said, “I’ll recommend that he come to you.”
He laughed and said, “I’m not a barber. I’m a hairstylist.” We laughed at that comment. Then, he told us that his brother who owns a transport company called him earlier in the morning saying that after an audit was done on his fuel consumption for the period, August 2019 to July 2020, R1,500,000 worth of fuel was stolen. Two drivers managed to steal that amount of fuel in a year. This is how it worked … each driver has a fuel tag for a specific petrol station. This is used on the fuel bowser. When inserted, the bowser reads their specific truck’s registration. The attendant will wave, calling a motorcar forward, which drives up and gets a tank of petrol. Then another and then another. Each motorcar has cellophane paper over their number plates. The petrol station’s CCTV cameras cannot read the number plates because they come out blurry with the cellophane paper over them. The petrol station owner agreed to open his recorded data from the CCTV camera’s for a forensic audit. Each time the tags were used, it was the same drivers and the same attendant. They have since been arrested. In another incident yesterday, also at a petrol station, the CCTV camera recorded two men in a white mini bus taxi, opening a cage where gas bottles are kept, loading 31 full LP gas bottles into the taxi before speeding off. This is how brazen ‘thieves’ are!
In pastoring a church many years ago in a different province, I needed to deal with what I called ‘business theft’. The church was a loose setup with few assets. When I saw the first Sunday’s bulletin, I asked how these had been done in the past. I was told that a certain person has them printed at the office. I asked, who gives permission? The response was … “Oh, the manager allows me to do it”. When I said that this was theft, the person was highly offended until I explained why it was theft. This was a gold mine office and the manager was an employee. The owners were the shareholders.
I asked: “Did you get their permission?” The answer was no. Many people today have a tendency of making photocopies at work. They take pencils, pens and other stationary for their personal use and even give it to their children for school work. How often do people get to work late, leave early, have extended “tea breaks, smoke breaks and lunch hours”? How productive are people at work? Do all these things not amount to stealing from the employer? In the free weekly “Record Newspaper” this week, there is an article of a local man from the “MOOT” area who was arrested for stealing gate motors. Some school children steal by copying their fellow leaners homework. You might recall me referring to another Commandment recently in a daily note (the Commandment concerning murder). Here, we will discuss the Commandment concerning theft!
Ex 20:15 “You shall not steal.”
I would often say that the last Commandment below covers anything you might think God forgot … but it equally applies as an extension to “You shall not steal”.
Ex 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”
Stealing comes from “coveting … anything that belongs to your neighbour”–and remember, neighbour refers to anyone and everyone other than yourself! The pen, photocopy, gate motor, petrol, gas bottle, extended tea time, wife (adultery), animal, etc. belongs to someone else (your neighbour) and you want it and take it! That’s stealing … theft and coveting! That is breaking the commandments (v15 and v17).
Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
Greed is part of the human sinful nature and it has its roots in covetousness … which leads to stealing! Paul places ‘greed’ here with other sins, calling it idolatry! To Timothy, he writes:
1Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Paul is saying that godliness and contentment are twins. They exist together because contentment is a fruit of godliness. The person growing in ‘godliness’ is the person who will be content because he or she realizes that, like Job, you cannot take anything with you into the next world … except godliness! All you need are the things that sustain and cover the body. Jesus put it like this:
Mat 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
He was referring to food and clothing. As the child of God who is growing in godliness, seeking first and foremost God’s “kingdom and his righteousness”, and not money and possessions and fame … God will provide his or her daily needs. Lastly, look at how two things come up in the following verses calling for contentment!
Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Not making illegal (sinful) sexual behaviour and money into gods gets God approval and provision.
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Dear God, all I need is You. Help me to remember and practice this daily. Amen.