Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephesians, Chapter 4, verse 28.
When I was about ten years old, I talked a neighbor into going to the local “Candy Store.” I talked him into stealing some candy, graham crackers and gum ball rings with me. I even talked him into going back to do the same thing a second time.
I stopped doing that. No, I never got caught and no one ever told on me. I just didn't feel right inside. I knew I had stolen and so did God. No matter what I did, I couldn't rationalize things. God knew it and I knew it. It was as simple as that! All I could think to do at the time was to stop stealing and to become a better example of how God works in my life. (I guess I should have gone to make amends to the store owner, but that didn't cross my mind until about 20 years later.)
Now, as a school teacher, I remember this situation when I find one of my students stealing something. (It’s kind of funny, every year I have a student who takes a big handful of the play money that I use for math. When I talk to them, they always try to tell me that a relative gave it to them.) Then, I tell them about when I was about their age and stole too. I talk about how I didn't like how I felt inside because I knew I stole, so I stopped stealing. I ask them if I’m a bad person now. (They always tell me no.) Then, I ask them if stealing was a poor choice? I tell them they are right. Stealing is a poor choice, but we don’t have to continue to steal. I tell them that I have confidence that they can turn things around just like I did.
Sometimes I get concerned when youngsters do something wrong and label themselves as “bad people”. I think they sometimes start behaving like they think “bad people” behave. It’s so important for kids to realize that they aren't “bad people,” but have just made poor choices and are able to turn it around and to make better choices. This is important to remember the next time a child does something that upsets you. We want them to realize how to make better choices in the future, rather than staying focused on all the poor choices that they have made in their lives. I’m so glad that God has been much more forgiving of me than I have been of others.
Because this is an example of how I’ve applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn't necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.