I have been working in a fast food restaurant for eight months. Every day I observed my coworkers taking money from the cash register and stealing it without a second thought. For more than five months I avoided that dreadful misconduct, but the temptation was always there. Two months ago I fell into the destructive behavior of stealing from the register, and now it has become a vicious cycle. But since that first day I can’t stand how guilty I feel. I have been depressed and worried, and I can hardly sleep.

I don’t want to live a double life in front of my loved ones. What should I do? I can’t stand it anymore.

Dear Friend,

We have good news for you! Your conscience is working as God intended. This is a sign that shows that you are basically honorable and have integrity. This temptation that you have fallen into doesn’t have to ruin your life. You have learned a valuable lesson that you will never forget. But you have to take steps now to get out of the cycle and back on the right path.

You already know that stealing is wrong. The eighth Commandment is very clear. Taking something that doesn’t belong to you is a sin, no matter whether you take a piece of fruit from the grocery store, a few cents from the register, or a great sum from someone’s bank account. Many people believe that small quantities don’t matter. This is similar to believing that it is less wrong to kill someone by shooting them once, than it would be to kill them by shooting them multiple times. The dead person is dead no matter how many shots it took to kill him. Stealing is likewise wrong no matter how small the quantity.

Other people make comparisons between their own belongings and their own lack of financial resources, to the belongings and wealth of others. They decide that the inequality justifies stealing. This is a version of the Robin Hood tale: steal from the rich and give to the poor. This kind of thinking eventually leads to gangs of people breaking into stores to steal electronic equipment because they believe that the owners of the store, or the owner’s insurance, can afford the loss. Once you believe that stealing is justified, there is no good end to where that thinking will take you.

If several people are stealing from the cash register, it will probably not be long until the owner of the fast food restaurant notices the loss. He may then install hidden cameras to catch the thieves. The next time you are tempted to steal, imagine how it will feel when the police come and take you away. Imagine how your loved ones will feel when they have to come to visit you in jail. And imagine how you will ever get a job again if you have a criminal record. Is a small amount of money really worth throwing your life away?

The best thing would be to immediately find another job. Get away from the temptation completely. And then come up with a plan to pay back what you have stolen. Once you remove the temptation and start paying the money back, you will be relieved of the psychological stress that is keeping you depressed and unable to sleep. However, more important than anything else, you must ask God to forgive you for your sin, in the Name of His Son, Jesus. Christ died on the cross to take the eternal punishment for your stealing. He will forgive you, but you must show that you are sincere by never doing it again.

We wish you well,