The Tremendous Ten: Terrifying Truths of Theft

The Tremendous Ten: Terrifying Truths of Theft

Illustration: Bernie Madoff
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors, not from any actual profit earned by the organization, but from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors. The Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering returns other investments cannot guarantee, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent. The perpetuation of the returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises and pays requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors to keep the scheme going.

Bernard Lawrence "Bernie" Madoff (pronounced /ˈmeɪdɒf/; born April 29, 1938) is an American former stock broker, investment advisor, non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, and the admitted operator of what has been described as the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

In March 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies and admitted to turning his wealth management business into a massive Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars. Madoff said he began the Ponzi scheme in the early 1990s. However, federal investigators believe the fraud began as early as the 1970s, and those charged with recovering the missing money believe the investment operation may never have been legitimate. The amount missing from client accounts, including fabricated gains, was almost $65 billion. The court-appointed trustee estimated actual losses to investors of $18 billion. On June 29, 2009, he was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum allowed.

Simply put, Bernie stole people’s money.  He took something that he did not earn and promised what he could not deliver. He played on people’s desire to make money fast and in the end, robbed them of their assets.  

Madoff is a crook.  Perhaps the biggest crook ever.  

Most of us in this room, dare I say all of us would agree that stealing is wrong.  Even if you are a moral relativist, meaning what is right for me may be wrong for you, would say that stealing is wrong.  Did you know that in every society, societies that are both primitive and advanced, that there are rules and laws against stealing? 

No matter where you go, theft is looked at as a criminal activity.  

We have laws on the books against shop lifting.
We have laws on the books for breaking and entering.
We have laws on the books for bank robberies.  

I can remember the time that my home was robbed.  We lived in Montgomery at the time and Angela got home after work to find out that all of our electronics had been removed from the home.  They ripped a plasma screen tv right off the way.  It was very depressing.  I can remember sitting down in my chair where I would watch TV on most nights and there was just a blank space on the way.  I put my hands on the arm rest only to discover the remote control.  This gave me some satisfaction.  They may have the TV but they would have to get up to change the channels.  


Theft Is Vicious and Violating

Background of Exodus 20

Most people believe that Moses was the author of Exodus.  There are several scriptural references that would imply that Moses was the author.  For instance, Exodus 24:4 actually said “he (being Moses) wrote down everything that Yahweh had said.”

It would seem that Moses' original readership would have been the Exodus generation of Israelites as well as all future generations who entered into covenant-relationship with Yahweh. While the covenant-relationship is offered to Israel, it is clear from the Book of Exodus that a response of faith is necessary to truly enter into that relationship.

A date of 1446 B.C for the Exodus has been supported in the Introduction to the Pentateuch. This would date the birth of Moses at about 1526 B.C. and the erection of the Tabernacle at 1445 B.C. Thus the majority of events recorded in the Book of Exodus occurred between 1526 and 1445 B.C., a time span of 81 years.

The 8th Commandment

Exodus 20:15 ESV
“You shall not steal.”

The Terrible Truth of Theft

I. Stealing Is Motivated By Lack of Faith

Have you ever wondered why people steal?  We can all agree that stealing is wrong.  Yet, so many people do it.  When someone steals from us, it hurts us.  It breaks our trust with others. We begin to think that everyone could steal from us. We feel compelled to buy security systems to protect our belongings.  

If stealing hurts so bad, then why to people do it?  I think that stealing is ultimately an act of distrust.  Paul believed and promised that God would meet all of our needs.  

Philippians 4:19 God’s Word Translation
My God will richly fill your every need in a glorious way through Christ Jesus.

When we steal, we are ultimately saying that we do not believe that God will meet our needs so we take what we want.  When we steal we deny the truth of God’s promises and we place ourselves as our sole provider.  

The Terrible Truth of Theft

I. Stealing Is Motivated By Lack of Faith
II. Stealing Is Motivated By Laziness

Stealing is motivated by lack of faith in God to provide for our needs.  

Stealing is also motivated by sheer laziness.  

There is something in our DNA that is allergic to work.  Some of us are better workers than others.  I know that I battle a really large lazy streak.  The problem with lazy people is that most still expect to have all the same benefits as those who work harder.  

So, in our laziness we covet what we have not earned and we try to steal what is not due to us.  One can see the political storyline of idleness being played out in our culture today.  However, there is no place in the Bible where laziness or idleness is rewarded with benefits.  

Proverbs 13:4 ESV
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Proverbs 10:4 ESV
A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 24:30-34 ESV
I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

So, why do we steal. We steal because we don’t believe that God will provide for us.  Next, we steal because we are lazy and simply want is not owed to us.  

Illustration: Lazy Criminals
Making a disguise to hide your identity during a crime is pretty easy. You can put pantyhose on your head, cut a few holes in a pillowcase or even just wear a ski mask. Even if you don't have anything handy, you can find something to make a mask from at just about any convenience store. With so many inventive ways to hide your face, you have to be pretty lazy to simply grab a magic marker, draw all over your face and say "good enough." 

Also, like Matthew Allan McNelly and Joey Lee Miller, you have to be really stupid. 

The pair broke into a stranger's apartment with these "masks," and were pulled over after police were alerted. When officers spotted the criminals and their marker-covered faces, they not only knew they had the right men -they also had a good laugh. 

"I've been chief here almost 25 years, been with the department 28½ years and I've seen a lot of things that make me laugh and weird things, but this was probably the best combination of the two - strangely weird and hilariously funny all at the same time," said police chief Jeff Cayler.

The Terrible Truth of Theft

I. Stealing Is Motivated By Lack of Faith
II. Stealing Is Motivated By Laziness
III. Stealing Is Motivated By Selfish Longings

Have you ever heard the statement “he’s hogging the limelight”? It means that someone is making themselves the center of attention.  Its all about them.  Some is trying to take all the credit.  The reality of life is that everyone has had someone help them get to where they are.  When we are unable to be humble, we become selfish.  We believe that we deserve all the credit.  We pride ourselves on being “self made”.  

As a Christian, have you ever asked what your purpose is?  I have.  Lots of people, even Christians, believe that they are the center of the Universe. They believe that God works for them and that all their needs, demands, ideas are better and more important than anyone else.  In some ways, they believe the God owes them something. Friend, a simple answer for your purpose here on earth is to bring God glory.  We are to shine the light on the Savior and build the Kingdom of God.  

Yet, something usually gets in the way of that plan.  That something is EGO.




Did you know that many people try to steal God’s glory instead of shine for God’s glory?  Read this brief story from King Hezekiah’s life.    

2 Kings 20:13-15 NIV
13 Hezekiah received the envoys and showed them all that was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine olive oil—his armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them. 14 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?” “From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came from Babylon.” 15 The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?” “They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”

Now, we need to realize that it was God who was the provider of all that Hezekiah had, but it was Hezekiah who took credit for all that he had.

Psalm 29:2 NIV
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name

I Corinthians 10:31 NIV
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Paul tells us that as Christians, whatever we do is to be for the glory of the Lord. 

When we do something using and ability or talent that we have been given, or we have something that has been given to us from the gracious hand of the Lord and we receive praise or honor or glory for it without reflecting it back to the Lord as the provider of the talents or gifts to accomplish the feat, or the giver of the gifts that we have, we rob God of the glory rightfully due Him.

Is someone stealing your thunder at work? Imagine for a moment how you feel when you are at your work place and maybe you made a great sale or closed a big deal, and your boss takes the credit for it to the higher ups without giving you any credit.

Wouldn’t you feel like you were stolen from?

Don’t be like Hezekiah and think that all of your material possessions and blessing came solely from you. It is easy to get lost in our selfishness and forget who really deserves the credit. Are you thinking that all you have is due to your hard work and effort and your own hand? You are stealing God’s glory.

The Terrible Truth of Theft

I. Stealing Is Motivated By Lack of Faith
II. Stealing Is Motivated By Laziness
III. Stealing Is Motivated By Selfish Longings
IV. Stealing Is Motivated By Loving The World

Illustration: Jesus
Late one night, a burglar broke into a house that he thought was empty. 
He tiptoed through the living room but suddenly he froze in his tracks when he heard a loud voice say: "Jesus is watching you!" 
Silence returned to the house, so the burglar crept forward again. 
"Jesus is watching you," the voice boomed again. 
The burglar stopped again. 
He was frightened. 
Frantically, he looked all around. 
In a dark corner, he spotted a bird cage and in the cage was a parrot. 
The burglar breathed a sigh of relief, then he asked the parrot: "What's your name?" 
"Clarence," said the bird. 
"That's a dumb name for a parrot," sneered the burglar. "What idiot named you Clarence?" 
The parrot said, "The same idiot who named the Rottweiller, Jesus."

The Bible is pretty clear that we do not really own anything.  Scripture tells the believer or the follower of Christ that we are merely stewards of the resources we have.  

What Resources Do You Have?

A. Time

B. Talents

C. Treasures 

We know through Scripture that God made everything.  From the very beginning God put us here with the specific instruction to manage His resources responsibly and generously.  

Genesis 2:15 NASB
“The LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” 

As good stewards, Scripture tells us that we are to use a portion of God’s resources for His purposes or ministry.  We are to give a portion of those resources back to the church to be used to grow God’s Kingdom.  These gifts are also to be used to help feed the hungry, heal the sick and spread the Gospel.  

Deuteronomy 15:7 ESV
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 

Not only does God want us to give back, but He wants us to give back with a good attitude and a generous spirit.  

2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Scripture goes on to tell us us that when we are generous givers, that God will bless us.  No, it does not mean that if we give $10 that God will give us $1000.  There are lots of blessings that God gives but it will not always be money.  

Proverbs 11:25 ESV
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

So, when we choose to invest in everything but the Kingdom of God, we are withholding God’s money from Himself.  When we spend God’s resources foolishly we steal from Him.  That is why we should be giving to Him first.  We should not be coming to God with a cliched fist.  We should come open handed.  When we come open handed, God can take but we can also receive.  

Are we guilty of withholding God’s resources?  Maybe?  Perhaps we should pray what we give.  Maybe we should look at how far our church is behind and try to remedy that situation so our pastors don’t have to worry about stopping ministry.  

There are lots of reasons to steal.  There is one really good reason to give.  Giving looks like Jesus.  If you want to look just like Him, then become a giver.  Jesus has never withheld blessing from you or me.  It all belongs to Him.  Will you exhibit the same faith that Jesus had and trust God with your time, talents and treasures?

Look Like Jesus and GIVE!


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