You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. [Leviticus 19:11 (ESV)]

Jesus once said that Satan was a thief. Satan does not steal money, for he knows that money has no eternal value. He steals only what has eternal value—primarily the souls of men. [Zac Poonen]

squirrelThe squirrel knew exactly where he was going as he wended his way around the top wall of the zoo’s outdoor theater before leaping down to a branch extending between two walls. He started feasting on tasty tidbits placed there for the two-toed sloth that would be making his appearance later in the show. “Squirrels are such thieves,” I thought, remembering my last zoo visit when I saw one in the budgerigar’s enclosure. The pesky bandit was sitting right in the middle of the feeder and stuffing himself with their food. In spite of their felonious nature, however, squirrels are cute and entertaining and those robbing rodents were simply doing what squirrels do. No harm was done by their thievery; neither the budgies nor the sloth will starve in the zoo.

The animals’ petty theft, however, caused me to consider the simple commandment not to steal, important enough to be mentioned eight times in the Bible. ”Well, that’s one I don’t have to worry about,” I thought smugly. On second thought, just because I always pay my bills and don’t cheat on taxes, shop lift, snatch purses or rob banks doesn’t mean I don’t steal. We can steal someone’s reputation when we gossip, we can steal their hope when we deny them an opportunity or encouragement, we can steal their joy with a few poorly chosen words, and we can steal their dignity when we treat them in a demeaning manner. When we snub, humiliate, abuse, deny, and ignore or when we’re over-bearing, selfish, rude, negative, and unforgiving, we’re stealing something far more valuable than money. We’re stealing things like self-respect, innocence, courage, delight, confidence, dreams and opportunities. This sort of theft is neither a misdemeanor nor a felony; nevertheless, it is a sin.

Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have. [H. Jackson Brown, Jr.]

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [Romans 13:9-10 (ESV)]

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. … Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. [Ephesians 4:29,31-32 (ESV)]