The Bible has a lot to say about money, and a lot to say about stealing. Money is a gift from God. It’s a blessing. Take a look at some verses from Deuteronomy 8:10-17, a portion of the Law of Moses:
You shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery… Beware lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.”
Stealing starts with forgetfulness. When you forget that everything you have is a gift from God, stealing naturally follows. God is the one who gives us the ability to produce wealth. The Bible sees our possessions as a gift from God whether we’ve earned them or if they’ve been given.
Luther defined stealing as acquiring any property by any unjust means. It includes
6. Pickpocketing, Pursesnatching,
10. Cheating on taxes.
11. Government stealing from future citizens by wasting or creating huge deficit.
12. Stealing by not putting in a full day’s work. (Some retailers lose more through employee theft than through public theft.)
13. Employers steal by demanding more hours than allowed by the contract.
14. Price gouging.
15. Marketing and false advertising.
16. Exaggerating the value of a product.
17. Insurance fraud. Filing false claims.
18. Theft of intellectual property. Plagiarism (Stephen Ambrose).
19. Identity theft.
20. Playing the lottery (stealing from the poor)
21. Not giving to the needy.
We regularly rob God. We rob Him of time and talent we invest in lesser things. We rob Him of praise due to His name and the worship He deserves. We rob God of our priorities and our passions. We rob God of possessions, money & property.
This commandment teaches us that God owns it all. He’s the Creator and He’s the provider. So stealing is a sin against God in two ways. It is failing to trust his provision. Secondly, it is an assault on God’s providence for others.
The Bible defines ownership as possessing something not for our own purposes, but for God’s glory. This commandment isn’t just about stealing; it’s also about stewardship.
There’s another thing that this teaches us about God. God trusts people. He entrusts us with worldly wealth and he tells us to use it wisely. We are stewards of the creation. It’s amazing to me that the God I trust in is also a God who trusts me with his wealth.
People are meant to have personal property. That’s clear from the mindset of this commandment. We are not all meant to live off on our own and be an island to ourselves. We are given wealth and riches by God, and these possessions can be “ours,” as long as we see that they come from God.
That’s why stealing from someone is not merely taking from someone. It is also an assault on their dignity. What you’re saying by stealing is that “You are not valuable enough to have something.” You are attacking a person’s worth.
Keep in mind that Jesus was crucified in between two thieves. We read this commandment as thieves. Remember, as Jesus was crucified he had a thief to his left and a thief to his right. The only difference is one was redeemed and one was not and this is the situation that remains to this day. Jesus is the One who gave his all, rather than keep what was rightfully his. He not only kept this commandment by not stealing; he transcended it by the gift of his perfect life and death.
So next time you are tempted to steal… look to Jesus. Look to his sacrifice on the cross as the reason why you can stand before God without being condemned. Look to him as he gives his life away as the example you are to follow.
written by Trevin Wax © 2007 Kingdom People blog