We know what it means when we say someone “stole our thunder.” It is a euphemism for when someone takes your praise, credit, or attention before you have a chance to. But it doesn’t make a lot of literal sense. You don’t own any thunder for anybody to steal.
Unless you are John Dennis.
As the story goes, Dennis was a playwright in the 1700’s. His play was mostly a dud, but part of it wasn’t. He had come up with a clever way of simulating the sound of thunder. When Dennis went to another play, he recognized his creation. He exclaimed, “The villains will not play my play, but they steal my thunder!” Now he made something else people would steal, his turn of phrase, and it seems he still didn’t get much credit for that.
Oftentimes we think of stealing as a material only thing. But we can steal things that are not as tangible as well. A person’s time, reputation, hope, credit, joy. All these might not be physical things but they can be just as damaging if we rob them from someone.
Romans 13:7 commands us, “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” Don’t think just because you haven’t picked a person’s pocket you have not stolen from them something they deserve. Failure to give what is due can be grand theft as well.
Hope church of Christ