Watching for the Thief Within

A thief is a man who in order to deceive his hearers pretends to reverence divine principles.  Although he has not come to know the true quality of these principles through his actions, he traffics in glory merely by speaking about it, hoping that in this manner he will be thought righteous by his hearers and so capture their admiration.  To put it simply, he whose way of life does not match his speech, and whose inner disposition is opposed to spiritual knowledge, is a thief whose appropriation of what is not his proves him to be evil.  Scripture fittingly addresses these words to him: “But to the wicked God says, ‘Why do you speak of my statutes and appropriate my covenant with your mouth?” (Ps50:16)

A man is also a thief when he conceals his soul’s unseen evil behind a seemingly virtuous way of life, and disguises his inner disposition with an affected innocence.  Just as one kind of thief filches his audience’s mind by uttering words of wisdom, so this kind pilfers the senses of those who see him by his pretense of virtue.  To him it will be said: “Be ashamed of yourselves, all you who are dressed in clothes that do not belong to you” (cf. Zep 1:8) and: “In that day the Lord will reveal their pretence.” (Is 3:17).  I seem to hear God saying these things to me daily in the hidden workshop of my heart, and feel that I am explicitly condemned on both counts.

Saint Maximos the Confessor (662AD)

Clearly the ‘truth’ is in perspective, the place he is holding himself accountable. Are we not all, if the least bit aware, just like Maximos?

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