8th Commandment: You Shall Not Steal
To steal is to take or use something that does not belong to me without permission. It points out, like most of the other commandments, how selfish a person can be.
Stealing can take many forms. We could outright steal a physical possession of someone, or their money directly or indirectly. Sometimes we might just “borrow” it with the intention of returning it, but better to ask permission! This may seem overly strict, but why risk offending someone and cutting off a relationship which the Lord has given us to share His word and make His love known? “Love…does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:4-5).
We can steal time, too. Let’s say I make an appointment with a friend from out of town which requires him to set aside other plans for the day. If I cancel that appointment last minute, I have stolen my friend’s time! If I waste time at work on things which do not contribute to the school, my students, or bettering myself as a teacher, then I am stealing time from my employer.
It’s safe to say we have all broken this command. Let’s throw ourselves at God’s mercy.
Romans 7:21—8:8…Paul says he wants to follow God’s Law, but he can’t due to the influence of the flesh. However, he has been set free by Jesus who has given Paul—and us—the Spirit which has given us life and peace. Now the question is, “do I have my mind set on the flesh (selfish desire) or on the Spirit (true life and peace)?”
If I have my mind set on the Spirit, I will not be allowed by Him to steal anything. In fact, He will show me things I never would have thought were wrong. One example is not using my work computer for personal business. I don’t think I would get in trouble for this, but a little less usage will probably make the school-owned computer last a little longer…
My desire to have more than I do will diminish, too.
Contentment. I know the Lord is the giver of everything I have, but it is taking some time to really be content—which if I am lacking can lead to the temptation to steal. Proverbs 30:8-9 says, “Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.”
Focus on Giving, not Getting. Paul connects these two ideas as opposites in Ephesians 4:28, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” It is important to note here that there are a lot of giving people in this world who don’t know Jesus, but claim to have altruistic motives. To truly give as God would like us to, we have to realize what Paul says just before this in verses 22-24—“Put on the new self”—really Christ HIMSELF. This requires us to lay aside the old self which has been “corrupted by the lusts of deceit.” In other words, every person on this planet is deceived into thinking they have some good in them. They are not focused on the things of God, rather excluded from the life of God apart from Christ (vs. 18).
Our giving should always be focused on the advancement of God’s kingdom. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15…”sowing” or giving will, by the grace of God, result in a harvest of righteousness, and God will be glorified. The LORD is the source of all things and deserves all thanks, praise and glory given to Him!
Psalm 24:1…Everything belongs to God. Therefore, if I am claiming anything as my own, not using it for God’s purposes, then I am stealing from God.
Our giving should always be to please God, not people. Matthew 6:2-4…giving in secret. If I am giving to receive attention/glory from others, then I am stealing God’s glory! The person receiving will have no choice but to see that the gift is from God. Our reward: we may see someone come to Christ!
If we truly have our mind set on the Spirit, the best reward we could receive on earth is seeing people give their lives to the rightful owner—Jesus Christ.