The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
I’ve only been robbed once in my life. And once is plenty.
There’s not much of a story to tell, really. No threats, no weapon, nothing scary or violent. I was robbed of my cell phone in broad daylight. While jogging (not running mind you) a motorist pulled up and through their rolled-down window told me a story of being lost and needing to make a call – but having no phone. Maybe it was southern hospitality, maybe it was stupidity – but I tried to help. At first, I kept my phone and made the call myself. But when that didn’t work, for whatever now suspicious reason, I gave this person my phone.
Big mistake. Within seconds and before I could fully grasp what was happening, the needy motorist took off. I was stunned. Stunned was soon joined by anger. And then Stunned and anger both took a back seat to embarrassment.
I was robbed because I was foolish. Naïve. I guess you could say my phone was taken from me, but it was taken because I gave it away, just handed it over.
On that day I was not ignorant or uninformed. I knew that there were people who would steal to get what they wanted. I knew that these thieves always left a victim – someone who had been robbed. But that information described things that sometimes happened to someone else. Never to me. Maybe that’s what makes a thief successful (if you can call it success). You’re never ready for them. You don’t know how close they are.
And the thief is often closer than you imagine.
The Thief Has A Name
There’s a sobering realism in the pages of the Bible. Anyone who thinks the Bible is a fairy tale book filled with wishful platitudes for people who can’t cope with this cold hard world, well . . . those people haven’t really read the Bible.
One of the jagged edges of truth you’ll find in scripture has to do with the constant presence and insidious tactics of a thief. Not the kind of thief that steals your phone while you’re jogging, not the kind of thief that breaks into your house while you’re asleep or away on vacation. No, this thief is at your elbow day and night, more than ready to take the most precious treasures you can possess.
This thief works hard to steal your peace, your joy, your sense of hope.
The thief has a name, and that name might explain why many walk through their days without giving his presence a second thought. Whatever name is used – the Devil, Satan, the Adversary – we don’t always take his presence seriously. But Jesus did, and Jesus told us exactly what he seeks to do.
Your soul, your faith, has an adversary. He is a thief intent on robbing you of the abundant life Jesus wants you to have. He’ll take your peace and leave you sleepless with anxiety. He’ll steal your joy and suffocate you with depression. He’ll rob you of hope and bury you with despair. The thief is always working and closer than you imagine.
Put First Things First
As we think about what it means for us to ‘reset’ at the start of a new year, there may be specific aspects of our life that come to mind. We may want to reset in the area of relationships, or finances, or physical health, or spiritual practices. But beneath all these there’s something more fundamental that we want to recover, or renew, in the days to come. What we’re truly seeking is nothing less than a full and abundant life.
The good news is that Jesus came to give you that life. He wants you to experience it, not just occasionally, but consistently. To walk with Jesus, to look to him daily in faith and trust, is to live with deep peace, rock-solid hope, and genuine joy.
But don’t be naïve. There is a thief, and he’s only too eager to rob you of what Jesus wants you to have.
I never recovered that phone. I notified the police, they listened politely, but basically said my story was all too common. My phone was gone. But you can recover the life you were meant to have. You can recover your peace, your joy, your hope. And you do this by looking to Jesus. Put first things first. That’s what it means to ‘reset.’
Yes, the thief is close – but Jesus places his Spirit within you. And by the Spirit you receive life in its fullness. Don’t settle for anything less.
Lord Jesus, you are the source of abundant life – the life we all yearn for and strive so hard to obtain, often in our own strength. Give us the grace we need to look to you, eyes wide open to the thief that would steal what you intend for us to have. We ask you to grant us life to the full by the gift of your Spirit. Amen.