“The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy.”
When I was in college, someone forced their way into my car and stole my entire CD collection. Every. Single. One. Each CD embodied more than a plastic exterior or the songs it contained. In an odd way, those discs were a collection of memories that represented the innocence of a teenage boy growing into adulthood.
A few years later, another someone broke into my car and stole two guitars and a computer. One of the guitars was an acoustic, black-coated Takamine—a graduation gift from my godparents. It was weathered by the scars from a mission trip to the Bahamas and years of countless Young Life clubs, where I played as a worship leader.
Whether it’s a CD collection or guitars, the feeling you’re left with when theft occurs is the same: it’s gut-wrenching—a feeling of violation and despair. The recollection of the event is accompanied by anger, vindication, and wrath.
In time, we become jaded. We begin to believe that everyone wants to steal something from us. Like a dog protecting its bone, we growl and snarl at anyone who threatens that which is ours.
As time wears on, our pride and greed win the battle of our minds and we become corrupt. When we give in to that corruption, we reduce ourselves to thieves as well.
Robbed of Riches
I’m convicted this morning by the reality that my decisions constantly reveal my motives and, if left unchecked, those motives reveal a selfish component that is rooted in the worst parts of who I am. When I give way to that selfishness, I steal richness from others.
It’s curious that thieves take that which doesn’t belong to them, but wouldn’t a thief also be someone who robs others of joy?
As much as we have the power to make someone’s life rich, we also have the power to rob someone of a rich life.
Our words, like knives, cut with the sharp edge of poverty.
Our actions, like thieves, steal the very joy from those around us.
Our thoughts, like a disease, ravage our minds leaving us mentally crippled.
If you’re like me, I’m sure you have people and situations in your mind right now where you have been the victim. If you’re honest, you’ve also delivered these blows. I know I’m guilty.
Maybe we rob our spouse. Perhaps our co-workers. Possibly our children. Definitely ourselves.
Instead of bearing rich fruit for those around us, our words, our actions, and our thoughts constantly rob ourselves and others of the joy we were created to experience.
Despite our intentions, a wake of destruction remains.
Thieves Hate the Truth
I don’t apologize for any conviction you might feel because I am not writing these things to condemn anyone. As I said, I am guilty myself. I write these things to bring hope—to say, it’s not supposed to be this way.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
As recorded in the book of John, Jesus warns us of these thieves, but gives us hope that in Him we may have life to the full. I know that may seem like a Hallmark card to many of you, a cliché recitation from an ancient text that isn’t applicable today.
Are there practical applications that will move us from being robbed to having full life?
I believe so.
The first step is recognition.
Understanding how we can conquer these demons begins with the recognition of them. Thieves thrive in the dark—they do their worst work in the dark—that is why we must convict these criminals with the Light of Truth.
Draw into the light that which hides in the dark. As we verbalize and confess, we begin to imprison that which robs us.
Jesus said, “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.” Be truthful and ask yourself these questions:
Are my words uplifting and seasoned with salt? Do they represent someone who has been forgiven and in turn embraces forgiveness?
Are my thoughts founded in truth and hope? Do they reveal a grateful heart?
The second step requires action.
We must not fall into the trap of believing that we are here for our own benefit—that our actions are for our own gain. Our primary purpose is to invest in the lives of others. We are here to give, and our lives should reflect that generosity.
Too often we ask this question: What’s in it for me?
What if we dared to ask this question: What can I do for someone today and expect nothing in return?
In reality, our lives should be an outpouring of the blessings we’ve been given. If we truly believe this, we begin to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever wants to be great must become your servant.” Ask yourself:
Are my actions kind and compassionate? Do they reflect someone who longs to serve others?
Test these two principles today.
I believe that there are additional steps, which I will share later, but today, let’s begin with these two: recognition and action.
Consider how you are robbing yourself and others and decide to put an end to it. Don’t allow the world and its pressures to reduce you to a common thief. You were created for more than that. You were created for life to the full!
An enriched life awaits.
Matt Ham is dedicated to guiding others toward rich living. His own experiences have led him to the understanding and freedom of a rich life, and through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover true richness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment.
His first book, Redefine Rich, is a journey of uncovering a deeper, more fulfilling life by shifting your perspective. It is available in both Kindle and paperback on Amazon: here
You can order a limited hardback version of the book at www.redefinerich.com
To contact Matt, visit www.mattham.com/speaking