Well, the economy may be driving the increase in thefts, including bank robberies, but should people blame foreclosures, credit defaults, unemployment or poverty as a legitimate reason for stealing? Obviously, some do.
According to insurancejournal.com, shoplifting, employee theft and organized crime cost the global retail industry $119 billion in the 12 months that ended in June 2011, up 6.6 percent from a year earlier.
The online insurance journal quoted Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research and author of the study, as saying, “‘A sluggish global economy and high unemployment likely contributed to the increase. Many people in every country feel that the political classes have let them down and probably bankers have let them down,” Bamfield said, adding, “that may have given some people more psychological license to steal.”
It is this “psychological license to steal” that is causing concern in a world where honesty is being questioned as the best policy. As one person said, “I don’t regard it as stealing, I regard it as a badly needed reallocation of economic resources!”
Once a person justifies stealing — believing everyone does it — it is easier to convince oneself that stealing in normal. It is common. It is not normal. The first tangible crime mentioned in the Holy Bible was an act of theft, recorded at Genesis 3:1-6. Eve became convinced she had a “license to steal” when she chose to believe that taking what was not hers could improve her lot in life.
Engaging in property theft, joined by her husband, brought far more consequences than either of them had imagined. How so? Not only did Adam and Eve return to the dust, as God had warned, but they would suffer.
Consider the verdict God pronounced on the first thieves at Genesis 3:16-19: “To the woman He said, “I will make your pain much worse in giving birth. You will give birth to children in pain. Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.
“Then He said to Adam, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I told you, ‘Do not eat from it,’ the ground is cursed because of you. By hard work you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will grow thorns and thistles for you.
“You will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your face because of hard work, until you return to the ground, because you were taken from the ground. You are dust, and you will return to dust.” — New Life Version.
The first couple would experience more pain and less enjoyment in their family, in childbearing and in working to produce food. The worst penalty for stealing, however, was recorded at Genesis 3:23-24:
“So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove them out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” — Today’s New International Version.
Adam and Eve lost their paradise home and their close relationship with God. They lost their innocence, a happy future and the prospect of parenting sinless children who would fill the earth as God had originally purposed.
What about the consequences of stealing today? Some thieves have lost their lives — being shot and killed — in the process of a robbery. If caught, a criminal record can haunt you longer than you ever imagined, affecting future job opportunities. Also, companies think twice about giving convicted thieves a job. Can anyone blame them?
The prospect of losing life, one’s freedom, a good name, a better financial future and even one’s relationship with God has caused some people to rethink their options when their backs were against the wall.
Understandably, when faced with no money, no food, no shelter and nowhere else to turn, some people no longer think straight, adopting a “psychological license to steal” — not out of greed but out of necessity to survive.
Proverbs 6:30-31 acknowledges, “Excuses might be found for a thief who steals because he is starving. But if he is caught, he must pay back seven times what he stole, even if he has to sell everything in his house.” — New Living Translation.
The Bible’s answer is found at Ephesians 4:28: “Thieves must quit stealing and, instead, they must work hard. They should do something good with their hands so that they’ll have something to share with those in need.” — GOD’S WORD Translation.
Christians who work at doing “something good,” helping others, are often blessed with what they need, as Jesus said at Matthew 6:25-33. So try to save some money, borrow the money, ask for money, just don’t steal the money. Because in the end, crime does not pay. You’ll only be robbing yourself.