Take One

The eighth commandment is "You shall not steal." This is pretty basic. It means don't take stuff that doesn't belong to you. Nobody in our church would do that, right? No need to even mention it or repeat it or remind you.

Remember we mentioned taxes in the last installation (about telling the truth)? How many dependents do you have? Have you always told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? (Doesn't that sound familiar?) If you have exaggerated the truth on your tax forms for a break in your taxes, you have stolen. When was the last time you fudged the numbers on your tax form in the government's favor?

How about free samples? They're free, aren't they? Says there on the sign, "take one, free." But the sign says take one, not take ten. Even if it is small, even if it didn't cost the giver much. Take one. And how about if you don't even need it in the first place? Why take it? It's for those who need.

How many of you have office supply cabinets at work? Did you ever think that maybe those items are supposed to be used at work? <gasp> For your job. Not at your home, not for you kids' school projects. We're not talking the Post-It Note you used to write a reminder to buy milk on the way home from work, we're talking the whole pad next to the phone in the kitchen that came home in your briefcase. That's stealing. Maybe you have other household features that were supplied by an unwitting employer. That's stealing. You might never be caught, and everybody else might be doing it, but God's word is clear. Do not steal. It is wrong.

Okay, so you're fine on all these counts. You're good. You don't steal. But, how about software and music? Yes, Bill Gates is a multi-gazillionaire. No, he would not miss the income from one copy of Microsoft Word. However, copying that program from your good friend, using that one copy on all your home computers, is stealing. It doesn't matter how Bill Gates got his money (and people will argue for or against him until they're passed out on the floor gasping for breath), stealing his software is stealing, and nothing justifies that. If you are opposed to Microsoft, use a different product! <gasp>

And how about music? We've all heard arguments for and against copying music. It is legal to record from the radio because the radio stations are already paying for the right to broadcast to a public market. Is it right to take recordings that have not had this distribution fee paid and broadcast them? This is stealing as well. Again, it doesn't matter if the artist is rich or poor, if the artist does not wish for public distribution, he owns the rights and his wishes should be followed. The reason the artist is rich is that people like what the artist does, and are willing to pay for it. Whether the music distribution companies are honest or dishonest is not our concern as Christians. Our concern is our conduct. We do not steal.

But, like we said, no need to even mention it, is there?