Ten Commandments: #8 – No Stealing

We’re surveying the Ten Commandments, and today we have come to the eighth.

  • God is love.
    • You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
      • 1 – You shall have no other gods before Me.
      • 2 – You shall not make for yourself an idol.
      • 3 – You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
      • 4 – Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
    • You shall love your neighbor as yourself; that is, treat people the same way you want them to treat you.
      • 5 – Honor your father and your mother.
      • 6 – You shall not murder.
      • 7 – You shall not commit adultery.
      • 8 – You shall not steal.
      • 9 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
      • 10 – You shall not covet.
  • We love because He first loved us.

The commandment “Do not steal” is certainly among the easiest of the ten to understand.  Who cannot understand “Don’t steal”?

A sense of property rights comes early and naturally in life; one of the first sentences one child utters to another is “That’s mine!” just before turning to an adult and crying, “He took my (fill in the blank)!”

As we grow older, we become aware that stealing can take more subtle forms.  We can steal time from family in order to advance ourselves at work, or we can steal time from work to redeem ourselves at home.  In either case, it’s stealing and it’s wrong.

Some people attempt to whitewash their stealing, as when fudging on taxes is justified “because the government is already getting enough money.”  And some politicians make an entire career out of presenting themselves as Robin Hood:  “Vote for me and I’ll tax rich folks more so folks like you can be better off.”  Sadly, a democracy can be corrupted by Tom and Dick ganging up to take from Harry.  Yet stealing is stealing no matter how hard you work justify or disguise it.

A thief can be rich or poor because stealing is not a matter of how much you have or don’t have before you do the stealing.  All that matters is are you taking something that is not yours.  Greed is an equal-opportunity temptation; any person who thinks he’s exempt from it is self-deceived.

Children who are taught to respect the property rights of their parents and siblings will find it relatively easy to respect property rights of others once they’re grown and operating in the world.  And while it’s important to teach children to share, it must be done in a context of respecting the property rights of others – otherwise, the sharing loses its meaning.  If everything belongs to everyone then you’re not being generous when you share; you’re just taking turns with community property.  If, however, something is truly yours then the Lord will bless your soul for letting someone else use it because you are truly being generous.

Implicit in the command not to steal is a promise of the Lord’s provision for our lives.  That is, we don’t steal…and we don’t need to steal, because the Lord will always make sure our needs are met.  We know that we can obtain whatever shelter, clothing, and food we need through righteous means and will never need to resort to unrighteous means.  Thus adherence to the eighth commandment leads us to seek honest labor.

Before leaving the subject of stealing, we ought also to consider that just as we should not steal from people, neither should we steal from God.  All things belong to Him…including us!  We are His creatures.  When we seek autonomy, therefore, we are stealing what is His and trying to make it our own.  This concept is dealt with in the fourth commandment about keeping the Sabbath holy but also is addressed in “You shall not steal.”  No creature in his right mind seeks autonomy; it’s what made Frankenstein a monster.

You belong to God twice: once because He made you and again because He redeemed you.  Don’t steal from Him; let Him keep what is His.  There is no doubt He will be generous.

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If you want to know where to find all of these commandments in your own Bible, see the post Ten Commandments: Scriptural Locations which gives the chapter-and-verse reference for each commandment and statement in the outline.

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