Pastor Harold Brokke and his wife Cathy Brokke have served the Lord Jesus as counselors to countless missionaries all over the world. Harold is a former President of Bethany Fellowship International, the community that established and runs the renowned Bethany House Publishers. Presently Pastor Brokke serves the Bethany Missionary Church as Senior Pastor Emeritus. Cathy was the Director of Bethany Fellowship Missions for many years. Both live in Minneapolis. God has called Harold to minister to people and communities around the world on Bible Prophecy and sanctification through the Message of the Cross.
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CLEVER THIEVES AND SMART ROBBERS:
SHOULD WE ADMIRE STEALING?
Pastor Harold Brokke
1. STEALING IN SECULAR LITERATURE
In recent times, we notice a spate of novels and movies that somewhat pay adulation to the characters who are thieves but are smart enough to get away with their booty. They may be depicted as good-natured people who have come into the stealing "profession" because of the circumstances that drove them to such a state of condition. Their extra-ordinary smartness, friendly postures, and their "moral indignation" against injustice, etc., make them very appealing to the audience. In all our hearts we have an admiration for the bandit and for those who break the law and get away with their acts. This human frailty is exploited to create the secular fiction and myths that explicitly or implicitly spread an aura around such characters and life-styles. Can a Christian writer allow himself to write in such vein?
2. THE THIEF AND THE STEALER
Other words for this lawless pursuit are larcenist, pilferer, or purloiner, and shoplifter. A thief steals secretly when he or she thinks no one is looking. A robber may be disguised but the steals openly by threats and by force. Judas, one of Jesus' disciples once criticized the woman who anointed Jesus. Judas said, "Why was not this ointment, sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the (money) bag, and bare what was put therein." Thieves are hard to catch. Jesus however caught up with two thieves when He was crucified. One thief turned to Christ for salvation in his final hours.
3. THE ROBBER
This includes the bank robber, the purse-snatcher, the kidnapper, and the army that invades a helpless country and possesses it by force. Habakkuk speaks of international robbery in these words, "A bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs" (Habakkuk 1:6).
The Old Testament tells the story of how deep this sin can go. King Ahab wanted Naboth's God-given inheritance. When he would not sell it, Ahab's wife had Naboth killed. Then the king possessed his field. A man who has the inner drive to steal and possess what is not his must also be inclined to kill to get what he wants. Murder and stealing are close relatives. James 4:2 says, "You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain."
4. THE PILFERER
This describes a person who doesn't steal in big ways, but be among those who do it a little at a time, so that the amount taken over the months or years is not easily discovered. Several years ago, thefts from motels and hotels reached 500 million dollars a year. Hotel managers figure that one out of every three guests steal something. A New York hotel reports these items stolen, 18,000 towels, 355 silver coffee pots, 1500 silver fingerbowls and 100 Bibles. Also church elders some one will likely pilfer money from the church offerings.
5. GOD OWNS US!
God owns us for four reasons.
- He made us.
- He redeemed us by His atoning sacrifice.
- He has preserved our life in many ways.
- Some day we are going to give an account before His awesome throne.
These lay claim to all of us, dead or alive. But for many of us our master is not God. The things that master us are careers, family cultures, ambitions, sports, pleasures, and money. God may be good to have around for an emergency, but he doesn't have all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
6. WHAT SHALL WE DO?
Rationalization and justification of stealing based on the circumstances we are placed in is not a Christian act. The Bible clearly speaks against stealing. In Exodus 20:15, we are commanded: "You shall not steal." In Matthew 19:18 the Lord Jesus commands us: "You shall not steal." In Proverb 6:31 we read the social consequence of stealing: "Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry; but when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; he must give all the substance of his house." Nowhere in the Bible we see any adulation for the stealing act. Stealing is a sin and must be avoided.
So, it is indeed a taboo for the Christian creative writers to give any impression that they condone, approve, or admire stealing for any reason whatsoever. The act must not be condoned, but the actor may have all the freedom to seek redemption before the Throne of Grace. With the ever-penetrating influence of secular beliefs and ideals into the life of Christians around the world, it becomes the responsibility of the Christian creative writers to hold on to the Word of God and set an example for others through their stories and characters.
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