Do Not Steal

Just 10 Winchester is into it’s 3rd week already, and again J John put across an uncompromising message in a humourous way! He’s not getting at us, he’s joining us in the daily challenge to live according to God’s laws within a contemporary living space.

J John opened his challenge that stealing tends to smart small (often in the workplace), but tends to get bigger.

Ron Heather: Bus Driver
The interview this week was with Ron Heather, the bus driver from Southampton who risked losing his job in refusing to drive a bus with the Athiest poster “There’s probably no God: Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life”, as he felt it was against his conscience (see what Theos thought). He knew his customers well, many were elderly, he felt this message wasn’t appropriate – and he was more worried about upsetting God than upsetting his bosses! The ensuing fuss gave him many opportunities for conversations with his supportive colleagues!

The Yorkshire Sketch
Every week this “elderly couple” from “Yorkshire” find interesting ways to break the commandment… this week the reasoning is that if there was a 2-for-1 offer on last week, but not this week, the shop wouldn’t mind if he bought one/pocketed the other!!! Hmmm…

Back to J John
J. John bounced back onto the stage, but opens on a sombre note… many of us have been casualties of theft (J John has had his coat stolen whilst he was preaching in the past!), and financial crime in the UK costs £29 billion per annum (and he wasn’t talking about MPs expenses!), with over a million reported burglaries every year. How many of you still have the Gideon New Testament give to you at school? The Gideons give away 20 million Bibles a year, of which they are pleased to say 22,000 are stolen every year!

Define Stealing: “Taking something which belongs to someone else”… and there are so many different ways to describe this in the English language that it’s clearly a big problem! God is against dishonesty and demands fairness in everyday work:

The Inland Revenue estimate that £5000million per annum is lost in undeclared taxes/monies, with many justifying it on the basis that the government “takes too much and wastes what they have”, but “if your ship ever comes in, the IR will be there to help unload it!”

Employers/Employees
Employers: Don’t cheat your employees; don’t take advantage; teach people what is right & fair’ don’t manipulate.

Employees: Obey, not only when their eye is upon you, but when they are not looking. Why is it that the majority of sick days are on Friday/Monday?!

A large cause of inflation is these (seemingly minor, but mounting) costs, which are then passed onto the consumer.

What is the 8th commandment?

“You shall not steal” not “You shall not steal more than £1 at a time” (or borrow something without any intention of returning it).

What is the biggest item of theft?

TIME: “How little can I do for how much?”. J John spent a summer trying to cut grass in slow motion whilst taking endless tea breaks for an employer who kept telling him to “slow down”! I guess this is where there needs to be trust between employer (that the employee will do the work) and the employee (who has to trust that the employer won’t take advantage, expecting him/her to work at a high pace all the time if they’ve managed it once!)

Do for others what you would like them to do for you: how do we apply this to life?

  1. By working
    Work leads to profit, talk leads to poverty (not necessarily talking about waged work)
    Too many people are keen to move the piano stool when there’s a piano to be moved
    Most people are keen to avoid hard work and would rather ‘pick the lock’
    The only place in which success comes before work is in the dictionary.
    Don’t count the days, make the days count.
  2. By saving
    Good planning & hard work lead to prosperity (not that he was peddling the ‘prosperity gospel’ or at least I hope not!); hasty short cuts lead to poverty (Jesus commended the wise investor).
    Each of J John’s children were provided with 3 money tins: “Spend” “Save” “Give”
  3. By praying
    God loves to give gifts, even more so when we ask him.

Generosity & Guilt
The Earth and everything in it belond to God, we only have it on loan: God loves us into change, he doesn’t beat us into change!

What do we do with guilt?

Tithing
Always a sticky subject, some think the church is only out for our money! Do we cheat God in our offerings? Do we think that God is happy with the occasional 50p that we give him, the Bible clearly states 10% (joyfully given in the expectation that God will provide).

When J John became a Christian aged 17, he decided to take back a couple of books he’d stolen froma book shop. The Director asked him for an explanation and asked if he realised that he could call the Police… and was then surprised when the owner told him he was “free to go”… felt totally liberated!

The Amnesty Bins
Next week, J John is wheeling out the Amnesty Bins. He set a challenge that if we’ve stolen something we return it to its rightful owners in the coming week… and if that is not possible, then what we stole (or its equivalent value) can be placed in the amnesty bins on the way out (what is given is either thrown as rubbish, returned to original owners if accompanied by an ‘anon’ note, given to charity shops, or given to homeless shelters – not a single penny taken in admin!). The first time he did this one man placed £102,000 cash in the bins, another week, a man took his shirt off on the way out!

Let’s Get Practical: Have you ever:

Have you felt violated by theft?
You need to forgive those who have stolen from you:

Forgive & Forget, not Remember and Regret!

Be Transformed, Not Informed
The purpose of Just 10 is not to listen/be informed, but to subject yourself “to the Lord’s searchlight”, and reach out for forgiveness, and so be transformed! Will you?

J John says “tell your story“.

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