This summer, the morning messages at our church have focused on The Ten Commandments. Many of us have a pretty good idea what they are. Some of us can even recite them. But do we really understand the full ramifications of these “ten words” given by God Himself?
As our pastor said, we can’t just say, “Oh, I don’t steal chocolate bars from the corner store, so I’m good. ‘You shall not steal.’ Check.”
I wish it were that easy, but no.
I can’t shake my finger at you and say, “I know you’re a thief,” but I can point to myself and say that yes, yes I am.
No, I don’t take chocolate bars from the corner store – or anything else, for that matter. In fact, when I was a teenager – many, many, many years ago – I was accused of stealing $60.00 from a young woman at the factory where I worked. Thankfully, my mom was able to vouch for me, saying I wouldn’t even take a cookie without asking.
So, how am I a thief?
Let’s see . . .
Do I always use our money as I should? Most definitely not. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a spender, not a saver. Often, over the years, I’ve thought to myself, “I’ll do better tomorrow – or next month or next year.” If only I’d taken the advice I gave my children when they wanted something new. “Wait until next time we come to the store. If you still want it then, enough to spend your own money on it, then you can get it.” New and shiny soon loses it’s appeal and then I want something else that’s newer and shinier.
And my time . . . do I always use it wisely? Pardon me while I laugh hysterically – or sigh and get depressed. This doesn’t mean I’m working 24/7. Work has its place, as does family, friends, and rest. I can’t say I’ve found the right balance. As a Christian, I’ve heard about tithing my money. In the same vein, I’ve often thought it would be a good idea to tithe my time. Although this isn’t a biblical directive, I believe my life would be much different if I devoted from 1.5 to 2.5 hours each day to prayer and studying God’s Word.
And even if I got the time thing right, how about my attention? I can spend hours in a certain location with certain people, but my thoughts can be elsewhere. Can I, therefore, really say I’ve devoted that time as I should have?
As the fall TV season approaches, I will have to be careful. During the summer, it’s easy to keep my TV viewing to a minimum. After all, almost everything is in reruns. Like everything else, the appeal of TV is the appeal of relationships. I begin to care about the characters and then I want to watch as their story unfolds. That and sometimes I just want to veg. (grin)
Now, before you think this is all about legalism and condemnation, I want to stop and say this: Condemnation is like a soaking wet, heavy wool blanket. It keeps us down and there doesn’t seem to be any way out. Conviction, on the other hand, may feel the same at first, but it’s the polar opposite. I believe God convicts us of sin in our lives and, at the same time, empowers us to change.
And why does He do this? It really is for our own good. If we live the life He instructs us to live, He will be glorified and we will benefit in countless ways, now and for all eternity.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe we can earn God’s favour and a place in heaven. Faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). Salvation comes by accepting Jesus Christ as our Saviour (John 3:16). And when we do so, His Holy Spirit will enable us to fulfill the good works He prepared for us long before we were even born (Ephesians 2:10).
If you would like to listen to the sermon “The Heart of Stealing” and others in the series, visit efbc.net