Manching is a German town in the Bavarian region. In 1999, while excavating at a site near the town, archaeologists made an unusual discovery. U-shaped Celtic coins, dating back to the third century BC, were uncovered. The museum in Manching placed 450 of the gold coins on display.
On November 22, 2022 the museum was robbed of the Celtic coins, valued at several million Euros1. Thieves cut off phone and internet connections in the town, disabling the museum’s alarm system. It took only nine minutes to remove the coins from their display case. Museum officials stated the Celtic coins were a testament to the ancient history of Manching, and, therefore, are irreplaceable. Worse, they feared the coins might be melted and sold simply for their gold value.
Stealing is taking something that does not rightfully belong to you. The 8th Commandment condemns stealing (Exodus 20:15). Most of the time what is stolen is considered to have value by worldly standards: money, gold, diamonds, TVs, cars, paintings, etc. Sometimes, though, people steal food because they are poor and hungry; an allowance, called gleaning, is permitted by God to gather what was left in fields after harvest (Deuteronomy 24:21; Ruth 2:2-3).
Sadly, many things in modern society no longer have the value they once had. Abortions and shootings are testament to how little human life is valued. We throw away clothes and toys simply because they were last year’s fad. Even money has lost some of its charm. I once picked up a couple of pennies a woman dropped when receiving change; when I tried to return them to her, she told me to just leave them on the floor, they were of no real value to her.
We also experience attempts to devalue what we treasure in our spiritual life. In the Bible, believers are urged to live by, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). The world does not want to steal our Bibles; they would never use them. They simply want to deprive us of a closer relationship with the Lord by convincing us God’s word is not reliable. To question the validity of the Bible opens doors to more than one Lord and one faith. It is not uncommon to see people who have faith in many lords, one for each aspect of life. The reference to one baptism is in the context of receiving the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Such a baptism, of course, is no treasure if you worship multiple gods.
Thieves of this world know it is easier to steal our faith if they can break the connection we have with God through prayer. We are perhaps most susceptible to having prayer disabled when we cry out to the Lord in times of distress. False teachers frame their tactics in the shroud of deception; if God does not answer a prayer quickly and in a certain way, then He either does not exist or does not care. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we wait on the Lord, He will answer our prayer (Psalm 38:15). In His time and in His way, but always for our benefit (cf. Jeremiah 29:11-12).
How much value should we place on scripture and the privilege of praying? Are they like fine pearls where we would sell everything to possess them (Matthew 13:45-46), or like lost coins where we would search high and low until we found them (Luke 15:8-10)? The Bible and prayer are not relics to be worshipped, but rather are instruments to bring us into a better relationship with the Lord. When our heart is heavenly directed, our treasures will be secure from thieves (Matthew 6:19-21).