Although our salvation is by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ and not in our works, being saved by grace should teach all of us to turn away from all wrongdoing, and pursue righteousness and holiness.
One of the ways we do that is to cease from plagiarising.
Plagiarism is defined as "an act of fraud" that "involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward," according to Plagiarism.org. Defined in a more detailed way according to Merriam-Webster, to plagiarise means:
- to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own;
- use (another's production) without crediting the source;
- to commit literary theft; and
- present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
Many people, including Christians, often downplay or minimise the weight of plagiarising. Some would say that they merely copied an idea, borrowed a concept, or perhaps tried to share something good as if it were theirs. But did you know that plagiarism is stealing, and God doesn't like that?
Exodus 20:15 and 17 tells us, "You must not steal ... You must not covet ... anything else that belongs to your neighbour."
We should not desire to take for ourselves anything that doesn't belong to us. And when we do that without the owner's consent, it's called stealing, even if it's just intellectual property.
How Christians Plagiarise
I've seen and heard about Christians plagiarising something and attributing the credit to themselves. That might be simply selfish, but it's actually more than just that. Here are some ways Christians plagiarise.
1. When We Try to Present Another Person's Ideas as If They Were Ours
This habit can exist even among leaders in the church. A leader goes to this conference or seminar or whatever gathering, and then goes to his church with a new sermon that appears fiery. Failing to admit that the preaching notes were from another source is common among many Christians.
Certain Christian writers, on the other hand, do this by copying, merely paraphrasing, or directly lifting text from the real source, without citations.
2. When We Try to Imitate Another Person's Ministry, Personality, or Ideas
They say imitation is the best form of flattery, but seriously, imitating another person's ideas is simply a sign of laziness and a problem in hearing God. He always has ideas to give to people, and has designed each and every person to be unique; so why copy or imitate another person's ideas and ministry? The only person we must imitate is Christ.
Plagiarism Is Wrong
Friends, plagiarism is simply a wrong habit. Those who do this actually steal intellectual properties, and encourage their own loneliness. And more than just a wrong habit that has unlikeable effects, the act of plagiarising offends God.