HAS anyone ever stolen something from you?— How did that make you feel?— Whoever stole it was a thief, and nobody likes a thief. How do you think a person becomes a thief? Is he born that way?—
We just learned that people are born with sin. So all of us are imperfect. But nobody is born a thief. A thief may come from a good family. His parents, his brothers, and his sisters may be honest. But a person’s own desire for such things as money and what money can buy may cause him to become a thief.
Who would you say was the first thief?— Let’s think about it. The Great Teacher knew that person when he was in heaven. That thief was an angel. But since God had made all angels perfect, how did that angel become a thief?— Well, as we learned in Chapter 8 of this book, he wanted something that was not his. Do you remember what it was?—
After God created the first man and woman, that angel wanted them to worship him. He had no right to their worship. Their worship belonged to God. But he stole it! By getting Adam and Eve to worship him, the angel became a thief. He became Satan the Devil.
What is it that causes a person to become a thief?— A desire for what does not belong to him. This desire can become so strong that it can make even good people do bad things. Sometimes, those people who become thieves never do turn around and do what is good again. One of them was an apostle of Jesus. His name was Judas Iscariot.
Judas knew that it was wrong to steal because he had been taught God’s Law from the time he was a little boy. He knew that God had once even spoken from heaven and told his people: “You must not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) When Judas grew up, he met the Great Teacher and became one of his disciples. Later, Jesus even picked Judas to be one of his 12 apostles.
Jesus and his apostles traveled together. They ate their meals together. And all the money the group had was kept in a box. Jesus gave that box to Judas to take care of. Of course, the money did not belong to Judas. But do you know what Judas did after a while?—
Judas started to take money from the box when he wasn’t supposed to. He would take it when the others were not looking, and he even tried to find ways to get more of it. He began to think about money all the time. Let’s see what this wrong desire led to just a few days before the Great Teacher was killed.
Mary, a sister of Jesus’ friend Lazarus, took some very fine oil and poured it on the feet of Jesus. But Judas complained. Do you know why?— He said that it was because the oil should have been sold and the money given to poor people. But he really wanted to get more money in the box so that he could steal it.—John 12:1-6.
Jesus told Judas not to make trouble for Mary, who had been so kind. Judas did not like it when Jesus told him that, so he went to the chief priests, who were enemies of Jesus. They wanted to arrest Jesus, but they wanted to do it at night so that people could not see them.
Judas told the priests: ‘I will tell you how you can get Jesus if you give me money. How much will you give me?’
‘We will give you thirty pieces of silver,’ the priests answered.—Matthew 26:14-16.
Judas took the money. It was just as if he was selling the Great Teacher to those men! Can you imagine anyone doing such a bad thing?— Well, that is the kind of thing that happens when a person becomes a thief and steals money. He loves money more than he loves other people or even God.
Maybe you will say, ‘I will never love anything more than I love Jehovah God.’ It is good that you feel that way. When Jesus chose Judas as an apostle, that is probably how Judas felt. Others who became thieves may have felt that way too. Let’s talk about some of them.
One was a servant of God named Achan, who lived long before the Great Teacher was born. Achan saw a beautiful robe, a bar of gold, and some pieces of silver. They did not belong to him. The Bible says they belonged to Jehovah because they had been taken from enemies of God’s people. But Achan wanted them so much that he stole them.—Joshua 6:19; 7:11, 20-22.
Here is another example. Long ago, Jehovah chose David to be king over the people of Israel. One day, David began to look at the beautiful woman Bath-sheba. He kept looking at Bath-sheba and thinking about taking her home to be with him. However, she was Uriah’s wife. What should David have done?—
David should have stopped thinking about having Bath-sheba. But he didn’t. So David took her home. And then he had Uriah killed. Why did David do these bad things?— Because he kept wanting a woman who belonged to someone else.—2 Samuel 11:2-27.
Because David was sorry, Jehovah let him live. But now David had a lot of trouble. His son Absalom wanted to take David’s place as king. So when people came to see David, Absalom would put his arms around them and kiss them. The Bible says: “Absalom kept stealing the hearts of the men of Israel.” He got those people to want him to be king instead of David.—2 Samuel 15:1-12.
Have you ever wanted something very much, as Achan, David, and Absalom did?— If that thing belongs to someone else, to take it without permission is stealing. Do you remember what the first thief, Satan, wanted?— He wanted people to worship him rather than God. So Satan was stealing when he got Adam and Eve to obey him.
When a person owns something, he has the right to say who may use it. For example, you may go to play with other children in their house. Would it be all right to take something from there and bring it to your house?— Not unless the father or mother tells you that you can. If you take something home without asking them, that is stealing.
Why might you be tempted to steal?— Because you want something that does not belong to you. Even if another person doesn’t see you take it, who does?— Jehovah God. And we need to remember that God hates stealing. So love for God and your neighbor will help you never to become a thief.