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Kitty Crime: The sins of Esme

It began with dead birds and candy wrappers. Kate noticed that her cat Esme would bring a “present” for her and deposit it on the back step. At first, it seemed like an act of kitty kindness, almost sweet, but not.

According to a recent news report from Beaverton, Oregon, the situation quickly escalated. What was a random occurrence became a regular caper. Soon, the back step was filled with items Esme was collecting from all over the neighborhood. Kate was appalled, and tried to figure out what was going on with her eccentric feline.

Finally, Kate knew that the sins of Esme needed to be exposed to the victims. Kate put a sign in the front yard with a life-sized drawing of Esme depicted with a glove hanging from the mouth. In large letters the sign read: “My cat is a thief: Please take these items if they are yours.”

Next to the sign, Kate erected a clothesline. On the line hung gloves, facemasks, kneepads, small hand tools, and much more. Esme had been one busy cat.

Being a preacher, I immediately began to think of appropriate scriptures like Numbers 32:33, “Be sure your sins will find you out.” And the words of Jesus in Luke 12:2, “There is nothing covered up that will not be revealed.”

But Esme had taken her crime to a new level. It may have become a phobic cat compulsion, a sort of kitty kleptomania. The initial act of pleasing Kate became a craving to keep life exciting.

Esme is not alone.

Stealing stuff is a common human problem. Some people steal because they want something, or because they are jealous of others, or suffer from poor self-esteem, or feel pressure from peers. Others steal to prove their independence, or to simply act out against society.

The painful disorder of kleptomania, or compulsive stealing, rarely has anything to do with gaining stuff. Often, the kleptomaniac, or “appropriator,” takes things they will never use or even want. It’s the irrational urge to steal that excites them, and giving it away somehow brings them relief. That makes Esme a faux feline Robin Hood.

When Kate hung the cat’s plunder and swag on the clothesline, it probably did not embarrass Esme. Her issues would not be resolved with just exposing her sin. And so it is with modern society. Many people sin for the thrill. Getting caught somehow adds to their pleasure.

But the pleasure of sin is momentary. Hebrews 11:24-25 NIV, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”

Good news: Thieves can change their heart. Through confession, repentance, and submitting to Christ, thieves can become saints!


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