By Stephen Phinney
OK, no one really enjoys talking about this topic.  The Lord is well aware of the tendencies mankind has in stealing from God, man, and self. It is simply a major ramification of the fall.
Most associate this topic with stealing money or possessions from others.  Few look behind the scene of the deception of stealing.  For example, the most dangerous form of stealing is not from the tithing and offerings of the Lord.

"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings”  (Malachi 3:8, NASB). 
Another form of stealing is not accounting for money, time, or efforts entrusted to us by an authority figure.  One example would be conducting personal business on company time.  How about bailing a child out of his circumstances in order to save face for you and your spouse?  Is that stealing?  Of course it is!  There are literally thousands of ways we steal from God, man, and self.  We simply refuse to take the time to look behind the walls of stealing.

Selfishness in general is just another fancy word for thief!  In order to be selfish, one has to steal from another in order to gain for self. Too simple? Probably not. The resources and possessions of a child of God are given to us by God. He expects us to spend them on the items He purposed.  As a good and righteous Father, He will hold us responsible for the blessings that He has entrusted to our care, such as money and goods. For every item or coin given to us, much more is expected of us by God.  The less we have, the less is expected.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:48, NASB).

The Lord God is very clear on His expectations of how He wants us to handle His funding, possessions, and resources.  For when we do not handle them according to the divine will of God, He considers it stealing – from Him, to be exact. Not only that, He expects this man to pay, or restitute, it all back.

"If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking, an oath before the LORD shall be made by the two of them that he has not laid hands on his neighbor's property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution.  But if it is actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution” (Exodus 22:10-12, 14 NASB).

In reality, it is this principle of “restitution” that keeps men in debt (stealing from the rich).  They do not want to face the reality of paying people back in all things. Typically, people in bondage to debt understand the concept of paying back money they have borrowed.  But few understand the principle of restitution when it comes to stealing time, not returning “borrowed” possessions, and using other people for their own gain.  If an indebted person really understood that unpaid debt is stealing, he might not have “borrowed” to start with.  

So how many “Christian” thieves are running around the world today?  More than you want to know. It is estimated that 72% of organized church attendees are in debt beyond their ability to pay their creditors back.
Someone meticulous about accounting is rarely comfortable going into debt.  Since the focus is on watching the number shrink in size, it works against itself to increase debt.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some who use a good accounting system to prove to themselves they can actually go into more debt. But the healthy minded person hates debt.

God oftentimes tests us in order to see just how much we can be entrusted with.  Early on in his career, my wife’s uncle was given an envelope containing $10,000 cash by his boss, who owned a billion dollar company. He was instructed to hand deliver it to the bank, which he did.  The boss called the bank and her uncle was given yet another mission the next day, but this time $50,000 cash was in the envelope.  This went on until the amount reached $100,000 cash. With each mission, he protected the money with his heart of integrity.  Over the years, as a result of this act of preservation, her uncle was advanced from “mailboy” to the vice president of the entire company.  Uncle Bob’s boss probably got this principle and technique from the Word of God; but still the same, it is an honorable test.  God, too, uses this venue on each of us.

"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?”  (Luke 16:10-11, NASB).  
Uncle Bob’s boss needed to determine the level of danger that might have existed between his personal assistant and himself.  Even though the boss obviously kept precise record of his investment, he didn’t know for sure if his assistant would do the same.  As a result, both were rewarded with many years of friendship, trust, and prosperity. 
The same principles of accurate accounting of money are the very same principles God uses in His kingdom.  There are no differences!  Once a man figures that out, he then can embrace the process of accumulating wealth. The first step to increasing wealth is to account of everything he has earned, was given to him, or loaned to him.
The next step is to be a righteous manager over present and future earnings, by making debt free and wise purchases that advance the Master’s way.
The final step is to carefully guard against any and all who would take away one’s earnings through crafty deceptive ways, such as fruitless purchases. 

A wise man will not only record all his financial and material blessings, but he also will record all the insights and ideas in which God gives him to grow as a child of God.  Keeping record does not stop with saleable items, which are only the point of beginnings.  Call it journaling or record keeping, it doesn’t matter – just do it.  Please remember: for every ounce of wisdom God puts into us, Satan will attempt to steal two.  It is in this manner, he forms debt.   
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