Johnny O. Trail
Just about any person who has internet access gets emails that contain fraudulent messages that attempt to trick a person into sending money to a third party or giving over sensitive account information. This has become commonplace, and it is disturbing on many different levels. A few days ago, I received one such email.
The sender had secured the email information of a trusted, well-respected Bible instructor. Suffice it to say that this man is a good friend, and I immediately opened his email in anticipation of the message he wanted to share. The communication was peppered with language that might persuade one to believe that this was a “bible oriented” person.
In part, it read, “Brother, would you be willing to purchase an Amazon card and send it to sister __________ who is struggling with terminal cancer? For whatever reason, I have had some trouble getting my check card to complete this transaction. If you will purchase this gift card and send me the account information, I will reimburse you for the expenditure. I want to brighten her day and put a smile on her face.” The sender even referenced Galatians 6:10 which says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
From the beginning, it was apparent that someone had stolen his email for the purpose of defrauding people of their money. I contacted my former Bible instructor’s wife within the day, and she said that they had already received over fifty calls about other people receiving the same email scam. I remarked to her that this thief “knew our nomenclature.” It is sad that a charlatan would use biblical terms (like “brother”) and passages of scripture to cheat people out of their hard-earned money.
One day later, the email scammer sent another message that simply said, “Any progress yet?” I started to reply, “Yes, I have forwarded all of the information over to the cyber fraud division in our county, and they should be contacting you shortly.” Instead, I decided to let things go and conserve my energy.
Sadly, using religion and status to cheat people out of their earnings is not new to our age. Judas Iscariot was of this ilk. John 12:6 says, “This he said [Judas, JOT], not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” Faith “healers” and various televangelists seem to thrive off the practice of fleecing their followers for money on a continual basis.
I marvel at the amount of time, energy, and effort that people in our world put into defrauding others. If they spent the same measure of effort into earning an honest living, they would most likely be wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. These efforts have moved from mail, phone, email, and now texting people to hoodwink individuals into relinquishing their savings to thieves. What a sad way for people to earn a living!
There is no shame in earning an honest living no matter what occupation a person has. We are to earn our livings by the sweat of our brows (Gen. 3:19). If one is unwilling to work, he should not eat (2 Thess. 3:10). Finally, one who does not provide for his family is worse than an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8). Scripture never condones stealing as a means of earning a living for oneself or his family.
Instead of quoting scriptures that encourage Christians to do good things (Gal. 6:10), these email scammers might consider reading the parts of the Bible that discuss stealing and the fate of those who continue to practice such a lifestyle (Rev. 21.8).
The author of the aforementioned email needs to understand that stealing is something that one can stop doing and repent from practicing. 1 Cor. 6:9-11 says,
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
While most are quick to condemn these types of theft, there are other forms of theft that remain unmentioned. With many people, cheating the government out of taxes is considered a commonplace practice. We are expected to be honest in our dealings with the government even if they are not always honest in what they promote. Luke 20:22-25 says,
Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s (Luke 20:22-25).
Finally, employee theft is commonly practiced by many in our society. It is the area where most businesses incur losses to their business. The Bible calls upon Christians to work in such a way to please God rather than men. Col. 3:22-23 says, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” While these passages address the relationship that should exist between a bondservant and a master, the modern implication is that we should work for our employers just as we would work for the Lord. Would a good, Christian man seek to rob God? By no means!
Christians should always be honest in their dealings with others—even when they are dishonest with us. We should never seek to steal something that does not belong to us or take advantage of unsuspecting individuals.