The church was robbed. It’s the third time in a couple of years or so. It wasn’t bad this time. They just stole underground copper wiring, about $3,800 worth. We lost the use of our youth building for a week. We’ll replace it this week, and move on.
It gives you pause, wondering what kind of person steals from a church. I guess it shouldn’t be any different than stealing from an individual, but it seems worse, somehow. Churches aren’t rich. They spend everything they bring in. Our small church has only around 200 people coming to it, and we gave over $23,000 last year in benevolent gifts. Throw in another $10,000 for missions and volunteer staff food and gifts, and we look pretty generous. We give. It’s the heart of a church.
So to be robbed seems such an unnecessary violation. The thieves would have to take the copper to a reclamation site, and that business would know that they didn’t come by that copper wire honestly, so they would only offer them pennies on the dollar. They might have made $300! Who knows? I guess for 20 minutes’ work, that’s not bad. But if they had just come to the church and told us they were destitute, they might have gotten more than that, and they wouldn’t have had to steal it.
I mused about such things last week, and then chuckled to God about the nature of a thief. I sensed God whispering back to me, with a smile, “Nothing to do but forgive and move on. I do it all the time.”
“You do?” I was genuinely incredulous.
“Sure. Folks rob me every week.”
I should have seen that one coming. But I bit. “Seriously?”
And then I turned the pages and read the account again. “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.” It’s in the Old Testament book of Malachi, 3rd chapter, verses 8 and 9.
Well, some folks were pretty high and mighty about what they’d do to those thieves if they caught them. “Low-life punks!” snarled one. “I’d like to get my hands on them,” growled another. I sure hope they’re contributing to their church. It would seem pretty hypocritical if they’re not.
But then I thought, wait! We’re not under the Old Testament Mosaic law. So is anyone really robbing God that way these days? And, of course, Paul’s words came ringing: ” The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). And there it is, plain as day! God loves a giver. Oh, yes, it says “cheerful” giver. But you can’t miss the “giver” part of it. Makes you wonder what He thinks about non-givers, doesn’t it?
At any rate, the church was robbed this week. I hope it was only copper wire that was stolen. But you never know. There’s all kinds of thieves.