Stealing and Prospering
As I reflect on my past life, i.e. life before Christ, I feel ashamed of being a thief. I was clever at stealing from the time I was a small kid, stealing toys in carnivals. In my teens, I remember of once robbing a set of products from a big shop. My friend was a decent guy and was so afraid of joining with me in this theft. Nevertheless, I persuaded him not to fear and stole the products.
Somehow I was observed and was caught outright. My friend and I were dragged to the nearby police station. When we watched other thieves badly beaten by the police, my friend was too afraid and shivered. As we were waiting for our trial in the station, we subtly escaped and ran like a deer from its predator and jumped into a running bus.
As I grew, I became more active in stealing things. I robbed enormous amount of money from workplaces, got involved in the distribution of counterfeit currency, produced fake identity cards and stole various things as I got opportunities. I was robbing so much money in my youth, not knowing where to store, I used to dump money in a big box, buying material things and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle. Influenced by some people who gained a lot of money from burglary, I was even forming a gang and planned to rob houses.
If I was not transformed by Christ at that time, you could imagine what kind of a stigma I would have been to my family and a great trouble to the society. If not for Christ, I am sure I could have either become a smuggler or a criminal. But my Lord Jesus is merciful and powerful enough to change sinful lives. I have seen Him transforming much worse lives than mine. Praise and glory to the life-transforming and life-giving Lord!
Confessing and Rectifying
One of the amazing things I have learned about trusting in Christ—you will not only receive forgiveness of your sins, but also get convicted to confess and rectify your sin before others. When Zacchaeus was saved, he said, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount" (Lu. 19:8). This is what the gospel of Christ does, leading people to repentance and proving their repentance by their deeds (Acts 26:20).
In the same way, when I came to trust Christ Jesus as my Savior and Lord, I received tremendous peace and joy in my heart. I was amazed and thrilled to know how much Christ loved and died on the cross for a wretched sinner like me. But at the same time, I got a conviction to go to the people against whom I had sinned to ask apology. One of the sins I was convicted to confess was a theft I committed years ago. I robbed a cycle from a known person, drove it to the downtown and sold it for a couple of bucks. After coming back, I pretended as if I didn’t know anything and tried to help him find his lost cycle.
So the Lord spoke to my heart to go and confess this sin to him, asking him apology and making recompense for stealing his cycle. I struggled a lot to confess before him the sin I committed against him. I felt ashamed and was even afraid of the consequences. Eventually, I went to him, humbly confessed my sin, asked for his forgiveness and gave him the money in recompense for stealing his cycle. He was surprised and gladly forgave me.
From Greed to Generosity
When I trusted in Christ Jesus, another thing I have noticed in my life is that the Lord turned my heart from greed to generosity. My heart broke when I saw people in need and God gave me His abundant grace to help others. Earlier I robbed things which belonged to others, but after knowing Christ, I have learned to share what belonged to me. This doesn’t mean I am perfect and selfless, but progressively growing in the grace of generous living.
In all these sixteen years of my life in Christ, I am grateful to God for using a once-upon-a-time thief to help countless people in various ways. Such is the power of the gospel. This is what Christ does when He comes into a sinful life, turning a sinner into a saint.
I am reminded of the words of Paul written to the Ephesians, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Eph. 4:28). What a great exhortation—a robber becoming a helper!
When coming to the cross of Christ Jesus and growing in the knowledge of the Holy One, a burglar stops stealing and learns to become a benefactor; a greedy man stops being greedy and learns to become a generous person; a plunderer stops plundering and learns to become a philanthropist; a selfish person—who may not be stealing things but yet keeps himself away from helping others—stops being selfish and learns to become a person who loves to share.
Well, this is why I love to preach Christ—I want to see miserable lives becoming wonderful beings and living for the glory of their Maker. People desperately need Jesus, for the Scripture says that all have sinned and cut off from the one and the only true God (Rom. 3:23). The gift of eternal life is only through the Lord Jesus, for He is the only one who died for the sinners and rose again from the dead as the Living Savior (Rom. 6:23). The Lord Jesus alone is the remedy for the world’s tragedy.
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