A Voice in the
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" Just a 'Little' Felony "
    "For whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." (Ja2:10)
A few months ago there was a story in the news about a store exercising a "zero-tolerance policy for shoplifting". According to our local TV coverage of it:
    "A Florida man has been arrested and charged with petty theft for eating 10 jelly beans out of a store bin, before he arrived at the checkstand. Police say the man was caught on camera inside an Albertson's store pulling jelly beans out of a bin, and eating them. After he paid for the rest of his groceries, the 34-year-old was confronted by store security, and asked if the candy was good. He said 'yes,' and was then arrested."
The man's excuse was that he had been a shopper at the store for 30 years and "just wanted to try the candy to see if he should buy it" [vw: It requires -10- to 'taste-test'?? :]

This TV station regularly has what they call a "Sound-Off" segment where viewers e-mail their opinions during the broadcast, and selected comments are then read 'live' during the newscast.

Here is a sampling of the responses they chose to read:

    "I heard this story and how petty can a store be? For starters they just lost all my business for the year. I have zero tolerance for [expletive] managers."

    "What is this world coming to? Arrested for eating 10 jelly beans? That is the biggest bunch of [expletive] I have ever heard of!"

    "I think that Albertson is being very petty about the jelly beans. He just eat 10 not the whole bin. If that is the way that they want to be, I guess that my choice would have to be never to shop at Albertson again."

    "Though I do not condone theft or shoplifting, this is going way overboard to charge someone for eating TEN jellybeans. If that is the way Albertsons is treating their customers, I will certainly not shop there again."

    "I think arresting a man for eating 10 jellybeans is unconscionable!! C'mon!! Yes, I've tasted a thing or two in the bins in stores before. Maybe not TEN jellybeans, but I think most of us or at least many of us would have to say that some time during our lives we have tried something from a bin. And he's shopped in the store for 30 years!! Makes me want to never shop in Albertson's again. There should NEVER be an arrest for this. Aren't we more civilized than that???"

    "You gotta be kidding this multi million dollar corporation can't spare 10 jelly beans. Be careful don't try the grapes you might be looking at 5-10 in the penn."

    "They should fire the Albertson's Manager. This is getting ridiculous. Charge him for the beans and send him on his way. Talk about making a Mt. out of a Mole Hill!"

    "At the very least, he should be made to walk the plank. Plucking ten jelly beans could mean the downfall of society as we know it. O brother! Albertson's overreacted, and could have handled this more discreetly."

    "What little kid HASN'T done this? That manager is being completely [expletive]. The guy bought stuff--it's not like he just went in the store to pilfer."

Notice I said, what the TV station "chose" to read. Later when I went to the postings at their website, there had been an equal/balanced number of comments from the other side of the issue, similar to some things that will be addressed here. But as is the case with the media, there seems to be an agenda.

My comments, before going on here: If the candy was "good", and he was "testing", he should have gotten a bag and purchased some. By his own admission, the candy was "good". And that admission, when he didn't also buy some, was an admission of his guilt.

But what about this? ...and these comments? What, exactly, is it that is the "downfall of society"? What is it that this world is "coming to"? He "-just- ate 10...not the whole bin"? Yeah, and I bought "stuff", too, last time I went shopping, but when I saw the soap, still in the cart, that had fallen below that I had somehow missed when putting my items on the conveyor belt, I reached in, got it, and put it on the conveyor. I suppose nobody else might have seen it, and I could have gotten away with it...after all, I was -paying- for everything -else-.

If I were to take the effort now to look up some statistics, but I'm too lazy at the moment, but I'm sure you've all seen them at some time or other... the Billions of dollars that businesses lose due to shop lifting. Of course, they stay in business. But if the business "covers" the cost of so-called "petty" theft, let's understand one thing clearly: It is not the store that pays for it; all the other customers do; because in order to stay in business it is a balancing act: What comes 'in' vs what goes 'out'. If some is going 'out' due to theft, prices must rise, overall, to cover it. Thus, the person who steals, steals from all the other shoppers; including you and me. And I'm certainly not a "multi-million dollar" entity!

But there is this attitude in humanity that seems to say: Whatever I can get, in whatever way I can get it, I'll take it. If it involves theft, just don't get caught. Or like in the case when my store's Open/Closed sign finally broke a few months ago, when a customer's child was pulling and yanking on it; the parent did not scold the child, but instead looked me straight in the face without batting an eyelash and observed, "It was ready to break, anyway." Thus, implying (?), the child did me a "favor"??? Or... was it thereby -my- 'fault' that her kid broke it?

It was actually -many- kids over the years. Her's, merely, finished its final total destruction.

When I was younger I remember the signs that might be seen in some shops, "You broke it? You bought it!"

There was a sense of responsibility and accountability for one's own actions. But today, if somebody damages something belonging to somebody else... Well, you have insurance, right? That's what insurance is for. This even seems to be the attitude of many in law enforcement. You're the business owner... that's just one of the expenses of doing business.

Today we seem to live in a "no fault" world. A little child does something wrong: Oh, it's not their fault, they can't help it, they're so young. When a person gets older: It's not their fault, it is their parents' fault. The parents: You did the best you could, it's not your fault... even though you refused to discipline your kids when younger. Or... it's 'society's' fault; we need to pass more laws to put the government in charge of this, that or the other thing; and make sure there are plenty of 'counselors' to go around. And above all, if you commit an offense, be sure to "forgive yourself"; it's not your fault.

ANYTHING BUT... SELF-ACCOUNTABILITY.

And why is this? What happens? The adult traces back to their unaccountable childhood. Childhood to parents. Parents to whom? Their parents? Teachers? Neighbors? Once the blame has been laid back far enough, generation after generation, where does it end? Where did the problems all start?

    "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to every person, because everyone sinned." (Rom5:12)
Adam, and his wife Eve. (Gen3)

And through the birth process, sin has passed on down generation after generation.

    "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Ps51:5)
Aaah! The word people don't like, so they pretend it doesn't exist.

-SIN-

The one person commented: "What little kid hasn't done this?"

Exactly!

    "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom3:23) "As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one;" (Rom3:10)
And so, if -everyone- has done sinful acts (of which 'theft' is one of them), well then it's kinda hard to accuse or criticize someone for stealing a few little jelly beans, isn't it. If -he- is to be arrested, for what infractions should -I- also be arrested?

But you see... if we can adopt the Hippy generation's slogan "Live and let live, man", well then, I can misbehave, you can misbehave; nobody's gonna "lay blame". After all, for aaaallll that stuff on the store's shelves, what's a measly "10 jelly beans"?

But God's Law says, "You shall not steal" (Ex20:15)

And furthermore... supposing those had been -your- jelly beans, that you had set your mind on to either eat, or give to your kids as a special treat when you got home, and somebody had stolen them from you? When you got home and found them missing, how would you feel? Would you not be upset?

When a person loves God, he is also going to love and respect his neighbor.

    "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt22:39, Le19:18)
As Jesus expanded on that,
    "And as you would have men do to you, you also do likewise to them." (Lk6:31)
When a golfer is putting, the ball goes skimming past the hole just a half inch away. Everybody gasps... Oh, it was sooooo close! Another golfer putts and the ball swings way wide by several feet. Who has the better score? It's like the saying, "Close counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades" -Both- golfers 'missed' the mark.

It's the same with sin. How big a sin keeps a person out of God's Heaven? Well... Eve -only- ate -just- a piece of fruit. What was so "big-a-deal" about that??? It wasn't like she -killed- somebody.

Well... she -DID- "kill" somebody, because: Because of her disobedience, and she knew the consequences, God had promised "death", the entirety of humanity that she started giving birth to, was and is born in sin. The penalty for sin is death. Just from one piece of forbidden fruit? Indeed! God had said "Don't", but they -did-.

It's not really -about- "jellybeans" is it. It's about right vs wrong, good vs evil. A hairline crack in a circuit board vs a ripped power cable? It doesn't matter. The device isn't going to work. Oh, but....it's such a -tiny- little crack! Nope! Not gonna work. But it was an aaaaaccident! I didn't mean to... Nope! Still not gonna work.

If a person would steal jellybeans, where would that mentality stop? To steal somebody's car? To embezzle millions of dollars? They are -all- the taking of something not belonging to the thief. Perhaps the penalty for jelly beans is less than that for stealing a car. But nevertheless, it is wrong.

And...

    "...flesh and blood is not able to inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption." (1Co15:50)
There is apparently this hispanic comedian (Carlos Mencia, as told to me by a neighbor) who makes "hispanic jokes"; he pokes fun at his own ethnicity. According to him, when a hispanic is trying to belittle their own criminal past they will whine: "It was just a -little- felony". This was told to me in the context that, this neighbor is in the business of renting apartments to lower income people. Part of the application process includes the question: Do you have a criminal record? And she was laughing how she discovered that the comedian's jokes are -real-, in real life. She has interviewed some of Hispanic ethnicity, and when asked the question about a criminal past, there is a bit of hemming and hawing, and in a somewhat weak voice: I have a felony, but it was just a "little" one.

According to the dictionary: "felony" == "One of several -GRAVE- crimes, such as murder, rape, or burglary, punishable by a more stringent sentence than that given for a misdemeanor"

As if to say: I only killed the person a "little" bit. I only "sorta" raped the person. I only broke into "one room" of the house.

So... we'll sentence you to only 15 "short" years, instead of 15 "long" ones.

According to the dictionary: "sin" == "A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate"

Thing is, whether "deliberate" or not, sin is sin. The ball did -not- make it into the hole. It missed the mark. God's Law was broken.

God also had sacrifices in the OT for the "uninintentional" sins and trespasses. (Le5:18, Num15:25) The very fact that we are born, we are sinners. That first rebellious squall as a baby is because of the sin nature. Just like dogs bark -because- they are dogs, and ducks quack -because- they are ducks; sinners sin -because- they are sinners. That's how they are born.

There is no such thing as a "little felony". There is also no such thing as a "little sin". A "white lie". A lie is a lie; the opposite of truth; the opposite of God's essence. Jesus said, "I am the way, the TRUTH..." (Jn14:6) Any "little" sin, whatever it is, is (as Maxwell Smart used to say) missing the mark "by THAT much".

Just because society calls "evil good" (Is5:20) does not make it so. If society were to start proclaiming that gravity doesn't exist, it would not change the laws of nature; if they trip, they will still fall on their face. Nor can society's denial of God's existence make it so. They can argue the meaning of what "is" is; but God still -is-; that is His name, "Jehovah", the existing one, He -is-.

And Jehovah God Most High has established certain laws. Some of those laws have to do with how mankind behaves. Even the smallest infraction (that tiniest microscopic hairline crack) makes the person at variance with God's holy character (the device malfunctions) and is under judgment (put on the reject pile).

In electronics there are two possibilities for the faulty part: 1) Fix it to bring it up to spec and register it with a serial number, or 2) throw it away.

Same with the sinner.

  1. 'Fixing' is provided by Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to take away sin's penalty, and then rose from the dead again to assure Eternal Life (Rom6:4-11) to which the Holy Spirit "seals" the guarantee. (Eph1:13-14) Eternal Life is offered as a "gift of God" (Eph2:8) to be "received" in Jesus (Jn1:12) when the sinner "repents and believes the Gospel" (Mk1:15)

  2. 'Throwing away' happens at the Great White throne, where those whose names are not in the Book of Life (no 'serial number') are thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev20:15) where "their worm does not die, nor is their fire quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh." (Is66:24b)
Amen!
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