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September 7

Exodus 20, 15

Something to read

You shall not steal.

To read the King James Version, click here

Something to think about

The novelist Anatole France commented, 'Never lend books, for no-one ever returns them. The only books I have in my library are books other people lent me.'

Perhaps more of us break this commandment than we might like to admit. It is very easy to forget to return something we have borrowed, but it is also surprisingly easy to justify small acts of theft – consistently turning up late for work, personal phone calls at work, a few extra photocopies etc.

Other individuals justify claiming unwarranted benefits, exaggerating insurance claims or paying large sums of money to creative accountants to avoid paying tax.

Corporations overcharge customers, undercut competitors, exploit suppliers, and underpay employees.

MPs berate youths for looting shops, yet they have been guilty of fiddling expenses. Both chose to steal.

In contrast, God’s people should cultivate integrity and seek to be honest in all our dealings, however seemingly minor. Thankfully, as with Zaccheus, when we get it wrong the Lord will forgive us but will also encourage us to willingly make amends.

Something to do

If you have something you have borrowed and forgotten to return, determine to give it back with an apology and a thank you.

Consider your patterns of living and working and identify if there are areas where you are inadvertently stealing from others - resolve to make a change.

Something to pray

Lord, we have sinned –
I have sinned,
our society sins,
the world sins.

We steal,
we cheat,
we exploit,
we extort.

Lord, forgive us,
and help us to change.
There is no one else
to whom we can go:
save us from our sins
and from temptations
that are too strong for us.

Set us free
that we might live by your law
and live for you.

Today’s contributor is the Rev Jeremy Allcock, Vicar of St Stephen’s, Westbourne Park, west London, and Area Dean of Paddington.


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