I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons at my grandparents’ house. One of my favorites was Mickey Mouse. I remember laughing at the antics of poor Donald Duck as he battled the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. The devil was red and had sharp pointed horns and sometimes a pointed tail and trident. He was always trying to get Donald to do the “fun” thing (the wrong thing), while the angel sat on other shoulder with his halo and white robe trying to convince the wayward soul to do what was right. I always laughed when the character looked from one to the other, sometimes in hyperspeed, trying to decide what to do. Since it was a cartoon, he usually ended up doing the right thing and all ended well. However, in our daily lives, the thief, or devil, is not so apparent and obvious. Many times the thieves that infiltrate our lives are obscure, or even disguised as a good thing.
A thief is defined as a “person who steals, especially secretly or without open force.” According to this definition, a thief is someone who quietly sneaks into your life and takes something from you. You do not see the thief while he is at work. We’ve all seen surveillance videos of someone who is stealing something. He looks around and carefully takes the desired item and slips it into his bag or pocket. A thief does not usually rob a house in broad daylight; he waits for the cover of night when everyone is asleep or out. If we knew a thief was lurking outside our homes, we would lock the doors and stay awake. We would put up all of our defenses. We would protect ourselves and do everything we could to keep them out. However, when a thief strikes, we are often unprepared.
So what does this look like in the life of a Christ-follower? Some thieves are obvious: a blatantly sinful image that pops up when we are searching for something on the internet, an opportunity to cheat on a test, or a chance to take something that does not belong to us. However, as the definition of a thief reveals, many of the thieves in our lives are not obvious. A thief can be the seed of resentment that is growing toward the co-worker who got the promotion we deserved, the way your spouse squeezes the toothpaste tube, the bad attitude about your children waking up before the crack of dawn raring to go (ask me how I know about this one – no matter how much I love my children, I don’t want to play with them at 5:30 a.m.). A thief can be the old high school friend who randomly contacts you through Facebook, seeking to reconnect, but instead ends up sucking you into the vortex of social media and thus away from your family and your real world connections. It could be the idea that there is some “perfect plan” that you can activate to guarantee the results you desperately want (for your health, children, or marriage). Many times a thief looks like a good thing, but it ends up keeping us from living the life God has planned for us. We spend our time working toward all these “good” ends and miss the best that God wants for us.
According to John 10:10, the thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.
Satan is the ultimate thief. His sole purpose is to pull us away from God. He uses whatever he can to accomplish this aim: distraction, insecurity, and sometimes even blatant sin. Satan knows our weaknesses and will capitalize on them to continually drag us away from God’s best for us. He knows that you really want that quiet uninterrupted time in the morning before everyone is up, so he will use that cute two-year-old to interrupt those plans and sour your mood for the day. He knows that certain friends can cause you to drink a little (or a lot), so he bumps up their latest Instagram so you reach out to them for a night on the town. He knows that you are insecure about your role in the office, so he stirs up some water cooler gossip that you happen to overhear. These little thieves can destroy us, but they don’t have to. Our job is to stop them before they get into our house and rob us of our joy. Most of these thieves can be stopped before they take our most precious possessions if we just acknowledge them and change our responses to them. So next time that chubby face peeks around the corner at 5:30 a.m., invite him to join you while you read your Bible. When that friend calls and asks you to head out for the night, invite her over for dinner or coffee in the morning. When you feel like you are failing at everything, try calling a friend that can give you honest feedback and encouragement. Don’t allow the thief to rob you of joy. Use those times to build up your defenses.
What are some thieves in your life right now?
What can you do to protect yourself from being destroyed by these thieves?
God, thank you for always having our best interests in mind. Give me the strength and wisdom to identify the different areas of my life where I am susceptible to the thieves that seek to destroy me. Help me fight against them and live the abundant life that you have prepared for me. Bind Satan, the ultimate thief, in my life. Amen.
This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her four young children.
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