A World Without Thieves
IT HAPPENED so fast. A well-dressed man placed a gun to Antônio’s* head in front of his home in São Paulo, Brazil, demanded the keys and the documents to his car, and quickly drove away.
In Rio de Janeiro, before the eyes of his ten-year-old daughter, four well-armed men subdued a man named Paulo. Then, after driving to his home, the robbers entered and stole what they wanted, filling Paulo’s two cars. Threatening Paulo’s wife with death, they took her and an employee along as hostages to Paulo’s downtown jewelry store, which they stripped of everything of value. Unexpectedly, though, the thieves later phoned, telling where they had left the cars.
How dismaying to be robbed of hard-earned money and goods! Although neither Antônio nor Paulo did so, others take the law into their own hands. They may make the thief pay dearly, or they may lose their own lives. For example, when a youngster snatched her watch, an indignant Brazilian woman pulled a gun out of her bag and shot the thief, killing him. The result? O Estado de S. Paulo reports: “People witnessing the episode spoke highly of the unknown woman’s attitude, and no one wanted to help the police identify her.” Although they long for a world without thieves, Christians do not retaliate as that woman did. Since vengeance belongs to God, they heed the words at Proverbs 24:19, 20: “Do not show yourself heated up at evildoers. Do not become envious of wicked people. For there will prove to be no future for anyone bad.”
But if attacked, what can you do? An incident in Rio de Janeiro shows how important it is to remain calm. A Christian, Heloísa, was on her way by bus to conduct a Bible study. Two men began to rob the passengers. Reaching the bus stop where she had to get off, Heloísa told them that she was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and that she was going to conduct a Bible study. She showed her Bible and study aid. Without robbing her, the thieves gave her permission to get off. Another passenger, though, was not allowed to leave. The driver later said that he had never seen anything like it.
Regina also remained calm when she was ordered by two armed men to get into her car. Showing her personal copy of the Awake! magazine, Regina gave a witness. Since the robbers were nervous, she asked them to open the glove compartment where she kept some candy. But seeing Kingdom Melodies cassette tapes, they began listening to that music. The atmosphere being more friendly, the robbers decided to leave Regina unscathed on the highway, assuring her that she would find a kind person to help her. After walking for ten minutes, she found a house, but the householder could not believe her story, saying: “You do not appear to have been attacked; you are so calm.”
Although a victim may be unharmed physically, such a nerve-racking experience can cause serious aftereffects. ‘The victim may become insecure, hateful toward family members or those who try to help him, unable to trust others, obsessed with organizing details, feel that the world is unjust,’ reports O Estado de S. Paulo. In contrast, a victim who trusts in Jehovah God is more likely to come through the experience unharmed physically and emotionally. Nevertheless, would you not agree that it would be a blessing if there were no more crime nor anything causing fear?
“Let the Stealer Steal No More”
Although many prefer their greedy life-style, God’s Word has helped thieves to change their desires and their personalities. (Ephesians 4:23) Having a real, Bible-based purpose in life, they take to heart the words: “Better is a little with righteousness than an abundance of products without justice.” (Proverbs 16:8) Cláudio relates: “Nearly all in my family were Witnesses, but I never listened to what they had to say about Jehovah and his purposes. Returning from a trip of nearly 1,200 miles [2,000 km] in a stolen pickup, I had to pass many police barriers. In the process I realized that I had to change my life. I had tried to do that before but without success. This time I began to think about my relatives who are Jehovah’s Witnesses and how different they are, having joy, happiness, and peace.” As a result, Cláudio began to study God’s Word, abandoned drugs and his former friends, and became a Christian minister.
Others also now heed the words: “Do not put your trust in defrauding, nor become vain in sheer robbery.” (Psalm 62:10) After a prison sentence for attempted homicide during a robbery, José, a drug addict and a drug trafficker, benefited from a study of the Bible with his brother-in-law. He gave up drugs and is now a zealous Witness.
Nevertheless, a new personality does not come about instantly or miraculously. Oscar, who had been deeply involved with drugs and stealing, relates: “I prayed so fervently to Jehovah that the floor often seemed to become a small lake with my many tears.” Yes, besides diligent study of God’s Word, persistent, heartfelt prayer is required. Note the wisdom in this prayerful view: “Give me neither poverty nor riches. Let me devour the food prescribed for me, that I may not become satisfied and I actually deny you and say: ‘Who is Jehovah?’ and that I may not come to poverty and I actually steal and assail the name of my God.”—Proverbs 30:8, 9.
Self-interest has to be replaced with genuine love: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28) As in the case of some first-century Christians who had formerly been ‘thieves or greedy persons,’ Jehovah, through the ransom of Jesus Christ, mercifully forgives those who repent. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) How comforting that whatever our past, we can change our life-style and obtain God’s favor!—John 3:16.
Security in God’s New World
Imagine an earth without thieves. You would not need a costly law-enforcement system of judges, lawyers, police, and prisons! It would be a prosperous world in which each one would respect others and their property! Does that seem unbelievable? Will God really intervene in human affairs and end lawlessness? We invite you to examine the evidence that the Bible is the Word of God and that its prophecies are reliable. You will find a solid foundation for confidence that a change is ahead. No one can hinder God from bringing the relief promised to all who love righteousness: “Do not show yourself heated up because of the evildoers. Do not be envious of those doing unrighteousness. For like grass they will speedily wither, and like green new grass they will fade away.” (Psalm 37:1, 2) Those words written long ago will soon be fulfilled completely.
God’s Kingdom will end misery and unrighteousness, which cause so much hopelessness and uncertainty. No one will be needy, feeling under pressure to steal. We are assured in prophecy: “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow. His fruit will be as in [ancient] Lebanon, and those who are from the city will blossom like the vegetation of the earth.” (Psalm 72:16) Really, in the restored Paradise, nothing will disturb the peace of humans who know and worship the true God.—Isaiah 32:18.
What a reward that will be for having resisted the ways of this greedy world! Proverbs 11:19 says: “The one firmly standing for righteousness is in line for life, but the one chasing after what is bad is in line for his own death.” Yes, after the wicked ones are cut off, no one will have reason to fear for his life or his property. Psalm 37:11 gives us this promise: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”
Some of the names have been changed.
[Box on page 5]
Coping With the Reality of Theft
AT HOME—Since thieves may invade whether you are at home or not, keep doors closed and locked. Experts recommend having alarms or a watchdog. Inform a reliable neighbor when you will be away on vacation. Remain calm—robbers act fast, unexpectedly, and can change plans immediately if they get nervous. If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, identify yourself and try to give a witness. You may be able to elicit friendliness or sympathy. Do not resist unless attacked physically.
IN PUBLIC—Be alert to notice if somebody is following you. Walk in the middle of the sidewalk. Avoid dark and deserted streets. Keep your purse or valuables secure. Walk briskly as if you are going somewhere. Avoid wearing expensive clothes or flashy jewelry. Shop with a companion when conditions warrant it. Carry only the money you need, distributed in various pockets or locations.
IN THE CAR—If “carjacking” has become common in your area, do not remain in your parked car. Alter your route to and from work. Take a more secure way, even if it is somewhat longer. Before parking, look around to see if anything seems suspicious. Avoid opening the baggage compartment in a deserted area. Do not leave valuable items visible in the car. A visible locked chain or other antitheft device may discourage casual thieves.
[Box on page 6]
“Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”—Matthew 6:19, 20