We live in a culture that is very resolute in its’ resistance to rules of any kind that dictate to us what we can and cannot do. Particularly, sexual practices are regarded as sacred space which NOBODY is allowed to criticize. But we often forget that God forbids certain practices not because He is a self-righteous prude but because He is a Holy God of love who wants the best for His creation, and especially His image bearers. Let us take a minute to review the effects of one simple sin: Stealing. The Bible says, “You shall not Steal”. What happens when we steal things? Our friends moved to Detroit a few years ago in order to be good Christian neighbors in the heart of a hurting and broken city. Sadly, their house has been broken into multiple times. The most recent time, the thieves stole a worthless coffee maker because there was nothing left to steal from the previous times that they had ransacked the house. What has been the outcome of this sin?
Well, when the lawn mower was stolen, the neighborhood vacant lots began to get overgrown when they had been previously been cared for by our friends. The bay window in the living room is now only half usable as a board is nailed to the bottom half to prevent further break-ins. Security doors have been placed at every entrance, and bars in any accessible windows. Tools needed for the improvement of the neighborhood are not purchased for fear of them being stolen again. Our friends have had to deal with the hurt of having been violated by their neighbor, whoever the person or persons may be. Everywhere you go in this city, you find the negative effects of stealing. Every store has to pay an extra security guard to prevent people from stealing. The extra cost of the security guard as well as the losses suffered by the business from the shoplifting, results in higher prices for everyone who shops in the store. Some stores have moved in to the city but then had to close down and abandon their business venture because too much property was being lost to stealing. The result is that there are fewer jobs. Cathedrals built with magnificent windows to declare the beauty of God and stores and shops with windows to make the shopping environment more friendly and enjoyable, have closed off their windows with boards and cinder blocks in order to prevent thieves, squatters, crack addicts and vandals from using and abusing the buildings. These are just some of the things that happen when we steal. Maybe, we should not be so quick to dismiss the commands of God? If the ignoring of this one simple command not to steal has resulted in all this loss and damage, what kind of damage is being done by ignoring the other sins? Not that we have exhausted the negative effects of stealing. There is much more, especially regarding what happens to our relationships when we steal.
It is not just houses, churches or businesses that get boarded up when things get stolen. It is also our hearts. When people steal our dignity, lie to our faces, or stab us in the back, we are likely to board up the windows of our heart to protect from further damage. The result is a lonely, hurt, bitter, fearful and angry people, which leads to further violence, hurt, and damage. There is hardly a “community” any longer at all. Neighborhoods begin to feel like a war-zones.
There is no such thing as a “private sin”. Whether we are talking about sexual sins or a “white lie” told to a stranger, all sins are sins against an entire human community. Unless we acknowledge this, we will continue to set fire to our own homes. It is time for a renewal of our communities that comes from the love and life of God Himself. The only way forward to this renewal is by acknowledging our sins for what they are. Lies are ugly, horrible things. Stealing is cruel. Sex between any two people who are not married or who are of the same sex, is a perverting sin against the entire human race. All sin is grotesque, a perversion of what we were made to do and be. But the good news is that there is forgiveness and a deliverer from our evil. There is someone who can restore all that we have broken, stolen and destroyed. Jesus is in the business and raising the dead and making all things new. It doesn’t matter what you have stolen, He can and will restore it if we confess our sins and are willing to be part of the restoration. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. The things that happen when we steal can be undone when we face our sin and acknowledge it for what it truly is, repent, and receive the forgiveness, life and power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Let’s make a way for walls to come down, beauty to be restored, and light to come into our communities once again. Let us confess the things that we have stolen.