The Seventh Commandment:
This is one of those commandments that all people get. Without needing to be told, people know that it is wrong to steal. I don’t have to convince you that it is wrong to break into someone’s house and walk out with their flat screen TV. I don’t have to convince you that it is wrong to walk into a store and walk out with your pockets full of unpaid-for merchandise.
So I’ll ask the all-important question: have you kept this commandment?
Did you ever take your brothers toy? Did you succumb to teen pressures, and steal from a store as you sowed your wild oats? Have you ever taken something that did not rightfully belong to you? Perhaps there are some out there who can honestly say that they have never taken an object that was not theirs. My hat comes off to you, but that does not mean you have kept this commandment.
You may have noticed a trend with these Commandment blogs. God is just as interested in the attitudes of our hearts as in he is in our keeping the letter of these laws. You may not have murdered, but that does not mean you have kept the 5th Commandment. You may not have had sex with anyone but your spouse, but that does not mean you have kept the 6th Commandment. The same is true for the 7th Commandment.
Have you ever, even just once, had an off day and slacked off a little at work? You realize that you are stealing from your employer when you fail to apply yourself fully to your job, don’t you?
Have you always given your first and best to God in the offering plate on Sunday? Do you realize that everything is from God and belongs to God, so a failure to give back to him what he deserves is stealing from God? Did you know that a misuse of our gifts from God (that includes even our ability to walk, talk and think) is stealing from God, because he expects us to use his possessions for his glory at all times and in all places?
And just like that, this commandment carries out one of its purposes. We see in this command a clear reflection of who we are by nature. We look in the mirror of this law and we see a sinner. A sinner who, try as he might, is incapable of keeping the Seventh Commandment.
But, you know, I’m more than just a sinner. I look in that mirror and I see the face of a sinner, yes, but I also see the face of one forgiven. Instead of the word “Thief” carved into my forehead as I deserve, God’s word shows me the cross, the mark of Jesus made over my head and heart when the waters of baptism washed my sins away.
Wow. I am forgiven for stealing that pack of gum a child. I am forgiven for all my sins of theft, so are you! So where do we go from here? We are forgiven… now what? I will share with you what Paul shared with some early Christians in Ephesus. “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” And just like that, this commandment carries out another of its purposes. It shows me how I can live my life to honor God for all he has done for me!
You shall not steal.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not take our neighbor’s money or property, or get it by dishonest dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and means of income.