Is it a sin to steal?

It’s sometimes easier to cheat, deceive people although not all the people all the time. But one cannot cheat, deceive God at any time.

Fr Chewe Mukosa, a guardian at St Francis Friary in Garneton, Kitwe says, “The year has started well. It’s the time for politicians to change. There are many politicians who are stealing from the Zambian people today and they know themselves. It’s time for them to realise that stealing is bad. There are many promises that have been made to people in Zambia that will never be fulfilled. Presidents come, presidents go. They make promises, they cheat people and they get away with it. But they won’t get away from the wrath of God because he sees everything that they do.

“We are beginning the year; I see people moving around trying to campaign, trying to tell people that they will build bridges where there are no rivers. [They] are trying to say things that they will never do, they will never fulfil. [They are] cheating the poor! Their (the poor’s) blood is on their heads because they have cheated and enough is enough.”

The worst kind of stealing is stealing from God. Many people steal from God without knowing it.

When we do not give as God has prospered us, we are robbing God (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Malachi 3:8).

Why do people steal? Some steal because they think it is necessary in order for them to have food and clothing. Perhaps they have no money and do not know how they are going to provide for their family so they steal from someone. They think their need justifies their wrongdoing. But stealing is never right! The main reason, however, that most people steal, is because of greed or covetousness. Greed is a terrible sin. It causes people to do many evil things, including stealing (Colossians 3:5).

From the beginning of time, stealing has been a sin. It was forbidden in the Law of Moses (Exodus 20:15). It is forbidden under the Law of Christ (Romans 13:9). Paul commanded the Christians at Ephesus: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need (Ephesians 4:28). Christians do not steal, but work to provide for their own needs and to be able to help those who are in need.

Why is stealing so bad? It is bad because God says it is. Stealing is a sin. Instead of loving his neighbour as himself, the thief takes his neighbour’s possessions. How many of us would want someone to take our possessions without our permission? The Bible teaches that we are to do to others the way we want them to do to us (Matthew 7:12).

The punishment for stealing in the Old Testament was very hard. Sometimes thieves were put to death. Whatever was stolen had to be replaced and extra had to be added. Thieves need to be punished today just as they were long ago.

The person who steals needs to stop now! He needs to repent just as the Corinthians did (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Repentance requires that he makes things right with the one from whom he has stolen. Then he needs to confess his faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Acts 8:37) and be baptised for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38). God will forgive a thief who truly repents and becomes a Christian.

The Bible has much to say about the sin of stealing, God even made it one of the Ten Commandments! God specifically forbids stealing in the 8th commandment (Exodus 20:15).

Stealing is a subject well worth our attention for several reasons. First, stealing has become a national problem of epidemic proportions. For example, consider the impact of “time theft” on our economy.

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