The Eighth Commandment: “Do not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) When the people of Israel were given these commands from God they were wandering in the desert wandering from Egypt where they were slaves. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. They had nothing. When they left Egypt God told them to walk to the Promised Land. That walk took 40 years. All along the way they stopped to camp in lands that were not theirs. The farmland, livestock and valuable goods were not theirs, and they need to trust God to provide for their hunger and other physical desires. God did not want them to take anything that wasn’t theirs, thus the 8th Command. God provided for their needs by sending manna each morning and water from the rock. Though God gives good gifts, it is not a right to help ourselves to whatever we want, that is sin.
Most of us usually do not outright steal. We often have clever, undercover ways in which we steal. Here are 4 Sly Ways that we Steal (say that five times fast!!):
1. Standard Stealing: Taking something you do not own.
God is very serious about stealing things that do not belong to us. He reminds us of Achan (Josh.7:20-21, And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”). From one mans thievery the people of Israel lost a battle and many people died. When I was younger I stole bobby pins from the 7th-grade Home Ec. Class. I got caught by Mr. Wolf. I tried to lie, but wasn’t able to get out of it. The consequences were a two-week suspension and broken trust.
To God a thief is a thief. There are not different degrees of stealing as some might think. We imagine that God grades us on a curve: 1 is taking a pen from church, 3 is downloading your friends CD onto your iTunes (even with their permission), and 10 is robbing a bank. Whether it is a pen or bank it is stealing in the eyes of God.
2. Sleek Stealing: Withholding something form someone that is rightfully theirs.
This is when you call in sick when healthy. Not only is this lying, but you are stealing hours from your employer. Sure your employer might not be fair or pay you what you’re worth, and others where you work do it too, but that is no excuse for sinning. Do borrow things without asking? Borrowing without asking even if you plan to return it is stealing. My sister is handicap and I remember making use of her parking sticker on many occasions to get a quick stop at the store, even on a trip with friends to Six Flags, this was sinful stealing of something that was not rightfully mine.
3. Smart Stealing: Deceiving someone into believing a falsehood for personal gain.
I dub this the insurance sales men stealing [sorry for the stereotype]. In other words, it is telling someone something true (gossip) or untrue (slander) to get ahead or what you want. You are robbing another person’s reputation or integrity. Another way to smart steal is to cheat. Cheating is stealing answers that are not yours for the benefit of your grade. You didn’t earn that grade; you stole it. I remember when I was taking my ACT, I was sitting next to the smartest student in the school (he got a 35). I was so tempted to take a peek, but I was reminded of the biblical phrase, “your sin will find you out.”
4. Spiritual Stealing: Embezzling God’s resources.
When we do not give ourselves fully to God we are stealing from God (praise and glory). If you are a child of God, He has given you spiritual gifts to be used for the growth of the group. If you are withholding you are robbing another from being a blessing to them. Do you know why the Dead Sea is the called that? (because nothing lives in it) The Dead Sea doesn’t have an outlet to flush itself of its saltiness. A believer that does allow themselves to be used by God is just as stagnant as the Dead Sea. In other words as our pastor says don’t be a parasite. Something that lives in the body, but doesn’t contribute to it is a parasite. Give to God. Ways that you can give to God are: tithe, serve, use your spiritual gifts (help, teach, show mercy, etc.). Mal.3:8 says, “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.” And Eph.4:28 says, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
I am not to be a getter (reservoir), but a giver (river). We must remember, “the earth is the LORD’s and everything in it.” (Ps.24:1) God owns your house and the land underneath it, he owns your car and your iPod, He is the source behind every dollar you make. God is your Provider and Supplier.
When we steal we are breaking our relationship with God.
When we steal we do not allow God to be our Great Provider.
When we end up stealing we are unsatisfied and want more.
When we steal it leads to other damaging sins, like lying, which we will discuss next week.
Confess to God.