“He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 

Ephesians 4:28

What Is Stealing?


  • Stealing means to take without right or permission that which belongs to another.
  • Stealing can also mean to keep others from receiving what is rightfully theirs.
    • withholding wages 
    • withholding time 
    • withholding profit 
    • withholding recognition 
    • withholding payment (i.e., alimony, credit card). 

“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” 

Proverbs 11:24

  • Stealing is probably the most common crime in society. 
  • Stealing is an umbrella word for various forms of theft:
  • pilfering 
    • stealing small quantities and insignificant items shoplifting stealing displayed goods from a store while pretending to be a customer embezzling 
    • misappropriating money or property entrusted to one’s careswindling 
    • obtaining money or property by deceit or trickeryextortion 
    • taking wrongly from another by threats, force or abuse of authority larceny 
    • legal term used for an act of theft kidnapping - to seize and detain for ransomcheating
    • to deprive by trickery plagiarism - to use and pass off another’s work as one’s ownrobbery
    • unlawfully taking the property of another by the use of violence or intimidationburglary 
    • entering a building or other premises with the intent to commit theft
    • slander making defamatory statements injurious to the reputation or well-being of a person
Stealing is forbidden by God in the Ten Commandments. 

“You shall not steal.” 

Deuteronomy 5:19


“What is kleptomania?”

Kleptomania is the recurrent failure to resist impulses to steal unneeded items, accompanied by subjective tension before and emotional reward after the theft. Kleptomania is not motivated by anger, vengeance, delusion or another disorder.  The English word “kleptomania” is made up of the two Greek words klepto, which means “to steal,” and mania, which means “madness.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” 

Matthew 6:19



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Alibis and Answers 

Alibi: “This will never be noticed or missed.” 

Answer: Even if you fool people, you can’t fool God. (Proverbs 15:3) 


Alibi: “I really don’t want to be involved in stealing, but I don’t want to lose my friend’s approval.” 

Answer: I am to live for God’s approval, not for the approval of people. (Galatians 1:10) 


Alibi: “This is not really dishonest because they owe it to me.” 

Answer: I owe it to others to always do what is most honorable and loving. (Romans 13:10) 


Alibi: “This is just the way the system operates.” 

Answer: Stealing is not the way God operates. (1 Corinthians 3:18–19) 


Alibi: “Once I get to the top, I will change my behavior.” 

Answer: I need to change my thinking (values); then my behavior will change. (Romans 12:2) 


Alibi: “If I can get ‘extra’ money, I’ll be able to give more to God.” 

Answer: God doesn’t want stolen money—He wants a contrite heart. (Micah 6:6–8) 


Alibi: “This will get me more cash to give to others.” 

Answer: God cares more about my character than my charity. (Proverbs 21:2–3) 

How to “Catch the Thief” in Your Heart 

  • Denounce wilful ignorance and seek to understand God’s standards on stealing. 

“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law”

(Romans 13:10). 

  • Admit that your heart is deceitful, and ask God to reveal the ways in which you steal. 

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”

(Psalm 139:23–24). 

  • Make a commitment to be totally honest, no matter the consequence. 

“Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death”

(Proverbs 10:2). 

  • Know that everything you do is seen by the eyes of a loving God. 

“For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths”

(Proverbs 5:21).

  • Think and pray before acting to make sure you are not rationalizing. 

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord”

(Proverbs 16:2). 

  • Be sensitive and accountable to the Spirit of Christ within you. 

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”

(Galatians 5:25). 

  • Make restitution. 

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount’”

(Luke 19:8). 

  • Accept the forgiveness of God and continue to grow in Christlikeness. 

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” 

(2 Peter 3:18).

To Catch a “Little Thief” 

10 Guidelines for Parents 

  • Pray for discernment and wisdom when confronting the child. 
  • Be sure your information and facts are correct. 
  • Meet with the child in privacy. 
  • Begin by assuring your love for the child. 
  • Offer an opportunity for a confession by the child. 
  • If the child doesn’t confess, confront with love and concern. 
    • Encourage the child to tell the reason for taking something that did not belong to him or her. 
    • Appeal to the child’s conscience. 
      • “How would you feel if someone stole from you?”
      • “How do you think God feels about stealing?” 

7. Have the child return the item and give something extra to the rightful owner. 

8. Give an example of an apology. The child can say, 

  • “It was wrong of me to take this (name of item) that belongs to you. I want to return it and ask for your forgiveness.” 

9. Ask the child, “What will you do the next time you are tempted to steal?” 

10. Set boundaries and consequences for possible dishonesty in the future. 

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” 

(Proverbs 22:6)



Accept the forgiveness of God and continue to grow in Christlikeness.

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”

(2 Peter 3:18)


Key Verse to Learn 

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” 

(Luke 16:10)


Key Passage to Read 

Titus 2:6–12 




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