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Listen to this story narrated by a man who has become wiser because of the experience. The title is: The Thief

(Author Unknown)

I would never have dreamed he was a thief. Ouracquaintance had all been so friendly and casual. It started one evening at myfront door. It was a Tuesday in August. “An entertainer turnedsalesman,” was his smiling approach to me. But I was not one to be takenoff guard so easily. I prodded him about his background. “Who are youwith?” I asked. It came out that he had ties with several of the largestdistilleries. He also had an account with a prosperous tobacco company.”At present,” he continued, “I’m an agent for a leading nationalmagazine.”

So I let him come into the living room and listenedto him for a couple of hours. On learning of his connections, I took pains totell him of my Christian faith and love for Christ.

“There is no place in my life for such thingsas liquor or tobacco,” I told him deliberately. “As a Christian, mybody is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” I was sure these words wouldbother or affront him. But no, he was totally undisturbed by my convictions. Hewould hold his views, I could hold mine. This status quo was to mark oursubsequent discussions.

In a light-hearted moment he slipped off on anoff-colour story. I was quick to inform him such things did not go in my home.In fact, I cut him off sharply.

As you may imagine, I had reservations on the truthof many of his stories. Still, I must admit his experiences often excited me.After having an interesting evening together I invited him to come back thefollowing night. “It may have a helpful influence on him,” was mynaive hope.

It took my wife’s words to remind me that hisreturn visit conflicted with our church’s mid-week prayer meeting. “Ishould attend,” I confessed, “but I must stand by the invitation Ihave given this friend.” I shared with her some of the things he had saidto me. Well, to put it lightly, she was reluctant to accept him. “I justdon’t trust him,” she would say. She grew steadily more concerned as hetook up more and more of our family life.

My entire day was boring in comparison with myevenings with this character. He had an imagination that was captivating. Iwould sit and laugh myself sick at all his crazy experiences.

There were other times that my hair would stand onend. His scrapes with the FBI and the law were absolutely breath taking.

If his stories were true, he was also an”extra” in motion pictures. But he couldn’t talk about this without including sex. This forced me to cut him off time and time again.

Then he began to affect my teenage son, Charles,and my nine-year-old daughter, Eloise. They just couldn’t wait to catch his latest quip or some hair-raising tale. They would have stayed up all hours if we had allowed it. All this distraction was hurting their studies and did their health little good. I began to worry about this fellow’s presence in our home.

And then it came. The “straw that broke the camel’s back.” One day, several of my best books turned up missing. I searched in vain for them. “This fellow may be something of a thief,”I concluded. “If he is,” I continued, “who can tell what else he’s taken from us.”

It all looked very suspicious. The next day I was so wrought up about it that I decided to check on him next door. Sure enough,he had taken things there too. At one friend’s home I noticed no more Christian magazines. In another the Bible had disappeared.

I was amazed at his subtle manoeuvres. In one home he had entered as a religious teacher. Another neighbour, a salesman down the block, knew him as an efficiency expert. “He’s showing me the latest gimmicks.” “He certainly has a lot of ways of getting in,” I concluded.

At long last I realised that my visitor was afflicted with kleptomania. Like an inveterate thief he had stolen my books,magazines and time. But the chief things missing were my close fellowship withChrist and the evenings spent in talking with my friends and family. I’m sure that others are having similar experiences.

Some have lost things of real value, not trifles,but precious family things they once enjoyed together. Spiritual, social and intellectual experiences have been taken from them, replaced by only a moment’s crackpot amusement.

This fellow is not at our home now. Though, if I could keep him in his place, he would be quite harmless to have around.Kleptomaniacs are not always deliberately bad. Even this one might profitably drop in with tidbits of news and a light word or two. But you must keep your eyes open, or such a person will continually steal things from you.

His name escapes me, but I will never forget his initials. They were, “T.V.”

I wonder: what has T.V. stolen from you? Time? Devotions?  Good reading?  Wholesome conversation? Church attendance? Check your list and see. You may be very surprised at what you’ll find missing.

End of article.

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