Thou Shalt Not Steal-Exodus 20:15
People do not mind being used; they mind being discarded. —Chris Matthews
Theft discards the steward. None of us can own anything more than temporarily. We literally cannot take it with us, so whatever "it" is, we cannot be said to own it. Our responsibility for possessions is to enhance those possessions, which may just mean we leave things better than we find them.. When someone steals from us (or when we steal from others) we (or they) lose the ability to work out the responsibility of the steward.
The local association leader and the BGCT employee who tried to keep me from receiving a call to a church stole from me. Operating without my knowledge, their insinuation and innuendo almost took away my opportunity to enrich a church field.
Theft can involve reputation and, so, opportunity, in a profession like ministry, where we are what people say we are to people who do not know us. Theft can be the whispered word in the uncertain ear.
Or, theft can be actual material loss. Sadly, the loss we incur in material loss is more than the "stuff" we no longer possess.
"I felt so violated," a young woman was quoted as saying. "I came into my apartment after a business trip to find a mess. Someone came in, made themselves at home, tried on my clothes, ate my food, tore up my place, took whatever they wanted and then left. I don't feel safe in my home any more. They took my stuff and they took my feelings of security."
Theft violates the safety of a steward. Theft discards the steward.
In our information age it is easier than ever to steal. One fellow took a fraction of a cent from a few million bank accounts by computer. He repeated the step over a months. His depredations ended only when he began to take a bit more each month from each account.
A woman who routinely stole identities to get credit cards said, "This is not hard. If I have your full name and address, I can make up enough of an identity to get a credit card in your name sent to my address."
Think of it. This is a period of history wherein honest living is more important than ever.
In the Agricultural Age (from ancient Egypt and Babylon) through to the Industrial Revolution, the primary social force was military. Standing armies, technological advances in weaponry and the shrewd ability to make powerful friends protected the serfs (farmers) or conquered them. Military power is still important but it has not been the primary social force since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
In the Industrial Age, power shifted from Caesars to Captains of Industry. The primary power became economic. A nation with a huge standing army but a struggling economy could not hold sway forever. The former Soviet Union crumbled because it could not produce a consumer economy while holding up an all powerful military. The times passed them. The Wall came down.
Our age is the Information Age. It dates to the invention of the modem.
In the Information Age the ability to steal and to hide from the consequences of theft make crime a more attractive option. Complications multiply in a complex era where one must depend more and more on experts who know the legal details and the ins-and-outs of geo-politics and finance. The people bilked out of their life savings by the billionaire investor Bernie Madoff were not stupid. They were able to earn millions on their own to invest with Mr. Madoff. They lost their money in a matter of misplaced trust.
That is, honesty is more important than ever. A fellow with a modem and phone connection on the other side of the world can eventually decode encrypted financial records given the least security lapse by its attendant. At that moment, the steward of the account is not used, simply, or robbed, merely. He is discarded, fully.
Theft is easier than ever. As a result, honesty is more important than ever.