10 Guidelines for a Great Life

Exodus 20:15

"No More Steal Valley"


Once upon a time there was a young pastor whose first church was in a small logging community in the Pacific Northwest. Everyone in the town worked for the logging mill, which was the only business and was involved in fierce competition with another mill just upstream.


To get a break from his study, the pastor climbed up a slope overlooking the river. To his horror, he saw his church members pulling logs branded by the other mill from the river, cutting off the branded ends and running them through their own mill.


The next Sunday, he preached a powerful sermon called, "Thou Shalt Not Covet They Neighbor's Property." After the service, the loggers shook his hand, patted his back and told him how much they enjoyed his preaching.  However, the next week, they were back in business stealing their competitor's logs. So, he fired off another scorching sermon called, "Thou Shalt Not Steal".  Again he was commended for his powerful delivery and keen insights into the Scriptures; but on Monday the other mill's logs were still being swiped. Enough was enough. This time he decided not to hold anything back. The next Sunday he preached a message entitled, "Thou Shalt Not Cut the Branded Ends Off Someone Else's Logs". The results, he was run out of town!  (Rev. Coy Wylie, from a sermon entitled: "Becoming A Model of Integrity")


Personally I believe that is the kind of preaching we need.  The kind that is specific and clear.


The eighth of the Ten Commandments, is very clear and specific.  It says, "Thou shalt not steal.”


Obviously that means...




Sadly the philosophy of our world is: “what's yours is mine if I want it, and if I want it I'll take it.”


A couple of times this week I went to a search engine that allows you to look at news articles from around the country.  I typed in the word “robbery” there were not a few hundred articles available, but literally tens of thousands… reporting robbery of one form or the other.


The fact is however, that you don't have to threaten someone with a knife or gun to be a thief.


1) Some steal from their employers by not giving an honest days work for an honest days pay.


Construction workers use to have a saying when a man was loafing on the job, it was this, "get your hand out of the boss man's pocket."


2) Some steal by not paying their debts.  They borrow but they do not pay.


I heard about a man and his wife who were looking at a new refrigerator. The salesman said to them, "If you buy this today you will pay no money down and make no payments for a year."


The man and wife looked at each other and said to the salesman, "Oh, you must have heard about us."


3) Some are thieves by just by cheating and taking advantage of others. 


In a poll of executives, for example, Gallup discovered that 35 percent overstate tax deductions, 75 percent take work supplies for personal use, and 78 percent use the company phone for personal long distance calls.


This command underscores the truth that... Christians and churches need integrity and that we are not to rob others.


This command means we are not to rob others.  But listen... it also means...




Is it possible for you and me to rob God?


Yes it is.


Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.


Underscore the words.... "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's."


I have a friend who is a little bigger than most and I have heard him jokingly say if someone bumped into him, as he held his hands over his large waist, “be careful this all I have that’s paid for…”


You say well, at least I own me. Not if you are a Christian.  You belong to God. You are bought with a price.


Now, suppose I take something that belongs to you and I abuse it, misuse it, ruin it, use it up and waste it, I have become a thief.


Well, my friend when you take your life, your body, your soul, your spirit, that belongs to God, use it, misuse it, abuse it, waste it, throw it away, you have robbed God.


You belong to the Lord. 


I remember hearing the story of a boy who made a sailboat, he fashioned it out of wood.  He carved it carefully and painted it red. He was very proud of his craftsmanship.  One day he took the boat down to the lake to play with it.  He was guiding it with a stick when a puff of wind blew it from his reach and it sailed out of his grasp and finally out of his sight. He was heart broken.


Several days later as he was passing a second hand store, he looked in the window and there was his own boat. Someone had retrieved it from the water and sold it.


He went into the store and demanded that the boat be returned to him. The proprietor said, “Son, I cannot give it to you, I purchased it from someone. It is for sale if you want it, you may purchase it.”  The little fellow asked, “how much is it?”  The man gave him a price.


The boy went to work, earned the money, came back to the store, put the money on the counter and said, “Now, let me have the boat.”  The man of course gladly did so.


The boy took the boat that was the work of his own hands and walked out of the store caressing it and talking to it and this is what he said:  “little boat, you are mine, you are twice mine, you are mine because I made you and you are mine because I bought you back.


The Lord could say the same of us.  We are His because he has made us and we are His because He  has purchased us.


The point is this.  We rob God when we withhold from Him what belongs to Him.


In the book of Malachi, God called Israel robbers, because they withheld their tithes and offerings from Him. 


God is robbed not only when we fail to surrender our money, but when we fail to surrender our lives.


We must not rob others, we must not rob God.  Let me add one more application.




Zig Ziglar tells of a thief, a man named Emmanuel Nenger. The year is 1887. The scene is a small neighborhood grocery store. Mr. Nenger is buying some turnip greens. He gives the clerk a $20 bill. As the clerk begins to put the money in the cash drawer to give Mr. Nenger his change, she notices some of the ink from the $20 bill is coming off on her fingers which are damp from the turnip greens. She looks at Mr. Nenger, a man she has known for years. She looks at the smudged bill. This man is a trusted friend; she has known him all her life; he can’t be a counterfeiter. She gives Mr. Nenger his change, and he leaves the store.

But $20 is a lot of money in 1887, and eventually the clerk calls the police. They verify the bill as counterfeit and get a search warrant to look through Mr. Nenger’s home. In the attic they find where he is reproducing money. He is a master artist and is painting $20 bills with brushes and paint! But also in the attic they find three portraits Nenger had painted. They seized these and eventually sold them at auction for $16,000 (in 1887 currency, remember) or a little more than $5,000 per painting. The irony is that it took Nenger almost as long to paint a $20 bill as it did for him to paint a $5,000 portrait!

It’s true that Emanuel Nenger was a thief, but the person from whom he stole the most was himself. (Signs of the Times, Oct. 1988, pp. 22-3)



How can you rob yourself?


You can rob yourself by not trusting in the Lord Jesus as your Savior.


There are many thieves mentioned in the scriptures.


In the New Testament there are two prominent thieves.


One was a disciple, his name was Judas.  He was the treasurer of the group and the scriptures tell us that he was stealing on the side.  He was a three fold thief.  He robbed others, He robbed God, and He robbed Himself.  He failed to truly embrace the Savior… though he was so close.


Another prominent thief in the scriptures was a man named Zacheaus.   Zacheaus stole for a living and was despised by others.  Again he stole from others, from God, and from Himself.  The good news is that Zacheaus finally got it right.  He met Jesus.