Archive for July, 2016

Thou Shalt Not Steal

July 1, 2016

Review photos 091

The lanes, hedgerows and fields of our area have a special peace and beauty all of their own at this time of year. Everywhere I go I can smell honeysuckle, wild roses and the scent of all the lovely herbs that adorn this part of the Irish countryside. The glen that lies down a narrow lane behind our home is especially peaceful – a little corner forgotten by time and modern development. However, I know full well that I cannot slip out the back door to go for a quiet walk without locking my door, because some opportunist might just walk in! These days many people have installed electric gates at the entrance to their homes; yet sometimes these are no deterrent, as we heard recently of thieves who charged through large electric gates with their reinforced vehicle. The awful reality is that theft is as common (if not more so) in rural areas as it is in villages, towns and cities.

Not so long ago someone I know (who lives in a town) was sitting having a cup of coffee with a friend outside a café when a man walked up and swiftly snatched her friend’s handbag, which was sitting under her seat. Fortunately another man in a car witnessed the incident and chased the thief (who was on foot) managing to retrieve the bag. However the person I know wasn’t that fortunate, when a short time later she was with other friends on a nearby beach and was robbed of possessions which she had left in the car. If all of that wasn’t enough, she recently got the ultimate shock, when alone in the middle of the night she heard thieves trying to break into her flat through a window. Thankfully the police were soon on the scene when she called them but this incident has left her sleepless and uneasy every night…

There are other types of theft too, such as online scams and cyber theft. People pay for a certain facility online and they discover that they were duped. Thieves will go to great lengths and ingenuity to devise new means of robbing their victims; all kinds of methods are used to discover personal details and credit card numbers. Even hidden cameras have been installed in ATM machines which the thief will collect later. Elderly people are duped out of their savings by ruthless conmen, who prey on the fact that they are vulnerable and often worry about things they think they need. A very common type of theft (which has affected me personally) is when someone in a shop tries to short-change you. Then, of course there is the person in a greengrocer who gives you less than what you paid for… “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.” (Proverbs 11v1)

Perhaps it is the theft of funds which have been donated to charity that really angers people. Certainly, people who have been bereaved may benefit greatly from certain charities which provide counselling – but when it is discovered that funds have been misappropriated, this comes as a terrible shock to individuals and groups who have generously contributed and often worked hard to support a needy cause.

When all is said and done, the violation of the eighth commandment, with its simple four words: “thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20v15) is one which has affected most people today. However, if a soul obeys this commandment… “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10v27) he will neither steal, nor murder, nor commit adultery… or indeed violate any of the lovely Ten Commandments. But it is only in the Lord that we can obey this greatest commandment which covers all commandments.

Sometimes a certain type of “world weariness” comes upon the Christian when he or she sees an abundance of crime in the world in which they live. They are tired of the sin, the wickedness, the terrible murders, the extortion and the lying in this world, to the point at which they feel almost depressed by it. They may even feel a certain longing to join old acquaintances or loved ones who have been “called Home.” “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8v22&23) Understandable indeed, but we must at all times want to be in the Lord’s will. For now, this is where the Lord has placed us, in this world of sin, sorrow, suffering… and seeking souls! There is no time to dwell on the negative or rising crime rates. Out there is a world of lost sinners to be reached; so many categories of people and indeed many who have never stolen anything in their lives – but who still need a Saviour, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23)

I love to walk in the quietness of the fields and to appreciate the loveliness of birdsong and the beauty of the wildflowers, with their vibrant colours and their gentle scent. Such abundance in nature and wildlife reminds me of the abundance of joyful life that we can have in Jesus. They also remind me that mankind in ancient creation was once innocent – but now this world lies in sin and the Lord has placed those who know Him in strategic positions, to reach others. While we may prefer a quiet lane with wild roses, sometimes He leads us down a more challenging road so that His perfect will is accomplished.

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10v10) That is the Lord’s will for even the worst type of criminal, if he will but only repent of his sin and come to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith, trusting that only He can “make the vilest clean” and wash away the stains of the darkest heart.