In case you’re running out of things to be concerned about, let me help. Thieves have figured out that you don’t keep all your valuables down at the bank in one of those huge steel vaults that are so hard to break into. Ordinary garden-variety thieves don’t target those things anyway. They leave them for the thieves we see on TV shows, who run around like James Bond, with gadgets in their pocket like a Swiss Army knife with a built-in laser that melts titanium like candle wax, and who just happen to have a wrist watch that deciphers every known security code in the entire world in less than three seconds. Ordinary thieves don’t have stuff like that, so they look for easier targets. They’ve apparently learned that we keep lots of valuable stuff just lying around unprotected in the houses where we live.
Having figured out where most of our valuable things are, they have also developed ways to get in—no doubt Googled ‘how to break into houses with an ordinary, non-laser-equipped Swiss Army knife’, or something like that. Regardless of how they acquired their burglarizing skill set, they’re apparently doing a booming business, because there are some 5,760 burglaries a day in this country. That’s one every 15 seconds. Thieves enrich themselves and impoverish others by taking things they don’t deserve and didn’t earn from the people who do deserve it, did earn it—kind of like working for the IRS.
Here’s another tidbit about thieves to warm your heart. Only 13% of those burglaries are ever solved by the police, and almost none of the stolen items are ever recovered and returned. So, that would make thievery generally more successful than many small business ventures.
You’re wondering, of course, why I’m even talking to you about thieves. I’m bringing it up for two reasons. For one thing, Jesus talked about them, and even if we didn’t have other reasons, that would be enough. Then, in addition to reminding us that thieves are out there, He implies that they wouldn’t be as successful as they are without our help. When we fail to offer our assistance, a thief’s challenges could multiply exponentially. Kind of breaks your heart for them, doesn’t it?
Jesus said, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.” (Luke 12:39 NKJV)
That implies that the homeowner has it within his power to thwart a thief’s plan and protect his valuables. Thieves depend on obtaining some help from those he intends to rob, which most are apparently glad to offer. Things like ignorance, indifference, and apathy are especially valuable to him. A thief’s success rests largely on what the naïve victim doesn’t know, what he doesn’t care about, and what he doesn’t do because of what he doesn’t know or care about.
Our willingness to engage in serious protective efforts is predicated upon our conviction that some kind of threat actually exists. For instance, if someone told me that they had come upon information that my house is about to be haunted by a glutinous spook named Bernie, and that Bernie was going to sneak into my freezer and consume my entire supply of yummy Krispy Kreme donuts, I might smile and nod just to be nice, but it would end with that. I’d be quietly pondering how to kindly tell the poor guy that the hard drive in his head needs a re-boot or something. On the other hand, if I actually believed that Bernie was stalking my stash of Krispy Kremes, I’d initiate extreme countermeasures immediately, maybe eat as many as I could, share the rest with homeless people, and put the house up for sale. We take precautions when we are convinced that a threat is viable and current.
When the subject of thieves and burglary comes up, most of us think about our TVs, our computers, maybe our cars—those items we generally hear about in news stories that have been stolen, and that prompt us to lock our doors. We tend to direct our protective efforts toward those pricey, tangible items that are valuable to us, and assume that thieves operate out of the same value system. What if that were not the case? What if there were thieves out there who covet possessions that we take for granted and treat in a haphazard manner and leave unprotected? What if there were thieves with a different value system altogether, who see things as priceless that we toss around like junk? What if the thief saw our TVs and electronic gadgets as junk he was willing to totally ignore in order to go after something much more valuable? That could paint a different picture.
The thief Jesus is most concerned about is not the one who might steal your computer, but the one who will use your computer to steal your integrity. He’s concerned about the thief who will happily leave your car intact if he can use it to steal your innocence, and/or your reputation. He warns about the thief who will encourage us to load up on glitzy acquisitions and who will never touch them, as long as he can use them to steal the hearts and minds of our children. There’s a thief who will applaud our impressive house if he can use it to steal our family. There is a thief who will step aside from all of our transient, depreciating, self-indulgent trinkets if he can use them to get his hands on treasures that are eternal, and that surpass anything money can buy.
Jesus warned about thieves, and said that they only come to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). That thief that He is concerned about doesn’t come to steal the sheep’s grass, or his pen. He comes to steal the sheep. If we’re going to protect anything, maybe it ought not to be what some burglar can carry off in his hands, and that we could replace with a few bucks. Maybe we should focus our energies on protecting what wasn’t bought with money, and that can’t be replaced with a few hours of overtime. The thief who’s after those things of eternal value needs our help to be successful, too, and we often leave the doors wide open and unguarded for him. We might as well put up a sign, “Open House—Thieves Welcome.” Maybe we should re-think what we’re working to secure.
© 2014 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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