Commandment #8   Leave a comment

“You shall not steal”, Exodus 20:15 (NIV).

Stealing is a crime.  There are legal ramifications for those who take things that do not belong to them.  The motivation for this crime often comes from Commandment #10 – coveting.  But for now, let’s deal with the deed.

Obviously, taking some else’s property without their knowledge or permission is stealing.  This goes against the laws of man and God.  As I think about this today, I think of two different aspects of stealing.

Number One: Fudging.  Have you ever given in to the temptation of rearranging some facts or figures to allow you or someone you know to receive a benefit not deserved?  I’m not necessarily talking about taking a pen out of a box of 1,000.  Chances are, things like that were purchased for the purpose of disappearing anyway.  I’m referring to the ‘fudging’ of figures, the changing of appearances, the thinking that if something (sometimes big, sometimes not) will never be missed, it is therefore not a crime to go ahead and get it out of the way (and into my house).  After all, in many instances, you can get away with this.  But that never makes it the right thing to do.

Number Two: Non-physical stealing.  Have you ever denied someone close to you an expression of feeling you know that they needed?  Have you ever said that you’d be there for someone and never showed up?  Have you ever made a commitment to the Lord then allowed everything else in life to take precedence?  This is also stealing, in my opinion. 

Stealing is basically a self-centered sin.  “I want something for me, therefore I will do whatever I have to do to obtain it, honestly or not.”  “If I show how I truly feel, others will think less of me” (often the thefts that occur in close relationships).  “I said that I would help this person today, but I found something that I’d rather do.”  “I told the Lord that I’d give more of my time to His church & His service, but I found that I can use my time better for my own purposes” (usually recreation).

I, me, mine, my own, etc.  See the pattern? 

The key to avoiding the sin of stealing is not so much in fixing your habits or desires but in your faith.  Find a way to change your heart from being self-centered to God-centered.  There is not a single thing that God will deny you on your “needs” list.  Jesus told us that we should never have to worry about our needs.  After all, if God loves the birds of the air so much that He always provides for them, then imagine how much more He will work to provide for us.  When Christ gave this lesson, he added a little note to go with it that is the key to this topic.

    “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” Matthew 6:33 (NIV).

Kingdom seekers have no need for stealing.  They find great satisfaction in the life they live and the stuff they have because they already possess the greatest treasure imaginable – the Kingdom of God within their hearts!

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