“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Mathew 6:25–27)

What is being robbed if it is not the raw feeling of loss? Robbery can be either perpetrated or permissive and either aggressive or sloughy. Whether it is a criminal act or a self-inflicted loss, you are the poorer for the loss just the same. A friend once said that locks were not made to keep bad guys out, but to keep good men honest. I have often thought of his pearl of wisdom while I turn the key on the car door. Though it may be futile to lock up because a determined thief with enough time and opportunity will find a way in, at least I have slowed him down just a tad by utilizing the lock.

The plague of thievery has been around as long as man has placed a value on things. One of the most memorable of the Ten Commandments states, “Thou shalt not steal.” Thievery is sinfully wrong. God approves of personal property rights for there is a new ethic when a person gets saved, as Ephesians 4:28 states, “Let him who stole steal (klepto) no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who is in need.” Our Lord gives sage advice in Matthew 6:19–21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there you heart will be also.”

Some wise men have said concerning the context of this passage, “Satan is the Prince of this World but Mammon is his prime minister” and “riches are like fire—a good servant, but a bad master.” Probably the most thought provoking comment on this passage is “God will put up with a great many things in the human heart except one—second place.” Taking the passage and these applications together it soon becomes apparent that a thief is not the only one who can rob you, but you may be responsible for a good deal of self-robbery!

Popular speakers warn Christians to not allow others to rob you of your sleep, your joy, your peace, or your reward. Since you cannot put a lock on your heart’s door you have to stand guard yourself. Guard against allowing outward circumstances from driving you out of your refuge in Christ by passive complicity with evil designs and calamitous misfortunes. Apply these words of Christ from John  10:10 to understand your self-thievery: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In Colossians 2:8 Paul warns, “Beware lest anyone cheat (plunder, make a spoil of) you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

If it were possible to put into one pile all the treasure that has been stolen throughout human history, I believe that it would be small hill in comparison to the mountain of potential time and treasure that has been wasted away through personal dalliance. Dave Ramsey poignantly talks about the “stupid tax.” It is an apt label for costly self-robbery in both the physical and the spiritual realm.

A poor foundation other than faith in the Lord Jesus Christ robs any man of eternal life (Luke 6:40). Coddling sin robs the saint of peace with conscience, fellowship with God and usefulness to his fellow man (Jeremiah  5:25). Self-absorbed, self-moderated living robs you of eternal reward in glory (1 Corinthians 3:13–15) and does not stand the test of the fire. Playing the prodigal (Luke 15:13) and being lazy at God’s task for your life (Matthew 25:27–28) robs a man of opportunity for usefulness to the Father. Following the skewed thinking of error-prone men rather than following Christ cheats you (Colossians 2:8) just as denying Christ denies you of eternal reward (2 Timothy 2:12).

Robbery is a terrible thing violating every form of common and civil decency, but self-robbery is far more destructive and pernicious. Insurance companies can calculate your loss from robbery, but the enormity of loss from self-robbery can only be accurately calculated in eternity. Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in (“while”) believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Trust and obey.