Thou shalt not steal. Exodus 20:15, KJV
When an unemployed father steals to provide for his hungry children, you can at least understand the motive; but what do you say when a woman is caught shoplifting who could afford to buy the store? Has a new game developed with our rationale‑‑one we might call, "Ripping off the establishment?"
"It doesn't bother me," a university student said, when he returned from the market with meat and produce stuffed into the inside pockets of his coat. "They won't miss these--they allow for loss." To a degree he's right, for when you go into a store to buy something, there is a built‑in cost factor of two to five percent of the price which allows for petty thefts such as the one I just described. But he is wrong in the sense that the store won't miss them. They know what is happening and they pass the loss on to the consumer who buys in the markets.
Theft in the market isn't the only place for sticky fingers. Reports indicate that "white collar thefts" are increasing at an alarming rate‑‑even to the point of putting some major businesses out of business. Years ago the American president Abraham Lincoln walked miles through the cold night to return a couple of coins which he had overcharged a woman in his country store; but today a madness seems to have seized the world that says,"What is mine is mine," and "If I can grab it, what is yours is mine as well."
The problem facing us today really isn't a new one‑‑it is as old as the story of humanity itself. To take what does not belong to you is not only the cause of conflict between individuals but it has been the reason entire nations have gone to war. To insure that man can live at peace with his neighbor, God gave ten timeless principles or guidelines for living‑‑known as the Ten Commandments.
The eighth commandment says, "You shall not steal." Do you ever stop long enough to try to understand what is happening today? There are some reasons as to why integrity has become corrupted, and understanding why these things are happening may help you as a parent to do a better job teaching your own children.
Reason #1: Our thinking has grown fuzzy when it comes to honesty. Personal and public morality have been separated by many of the men and women who are opinion makers today. I quickly admit that there has always been corruption in leadership; but I challenge the thoughtful observer of contemporary history to point out a period of time when there has been greater separation of personal and public morality than in recent years.
Reason #2: We've begun to teach our children that honesty is conditional, and this leads to confusion today. It is the unclear example of parents who teach by their lives that honesty is the best policy as long as it feathers your nest.
Reason #3: We have a generation of people who are confused when it comes to honesty because we have forsaken a standard of honesty in our personal lives. This leaves our children without a conscience in matters of right and wrong. The bottom line isn't what others do, it is what you do. You are the greatest teacher of morals and values your children will ever have.
Nothing is more fundamental and necessary to the survival of a society than basic honesty: honesty with each other, with ourselves and with God. For apart from this, we live and practice deception of the worst kind.
Resource Reading: Ezekiel 33:12-16.