"You shall not steal." Exodus 20:15
With this commandment, the LORD God forbids us to take or desire that which rightfully belongs to another. Thus, we are not to rob, steal or take the property of another by any dishonest means, including fraud, deception, unjust lawsuits, gambling, unrighteous labor or wages, unfair pricing, and the like. Instead of seeking dishonest gain, God urges us to work and earn our own property and goods and to share with those in need.
The Bible teaches: "Let him who steals steal no more. Instead, let him labor, working with his hands things which are good, that he may have something to share with him who is in need" (Eph. 4:28). God also tells us: "You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment regarding measures in length, weight, or quantity. You shall have honest balances, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Lev. 19:35-36).
Psalm 37:21 says: "The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous is gracious and gives." Jeremiah 22:13 warns: "Woe to him who builds his house with unrighteousness and his chambers with injustice, who uses his neighbor's services without wages, and gives him nothing for his work ..."
Expressing these same principles, Leviticus 19:13 says, "You shall not defraud your neighbor or rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not stay with you all night until the morning" (cf. Deut. 24:14-15). God even warns against taking advantage of the poor and lending for personal gain when He says: " If you lend money to any of My people who is poor among you, do not be a creditor to him, and do not charge him interest" (Ex. 22:25).
God also forbids us to be lazy and dependent upon the charity of others when His Word commands: "If any will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thess. 3:10).
What does God require of us when He forbids us to steal? He would have us love our neighbor and do all in our power to help him protect and keep his property and business.
We see this from the principle established by this command: "If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely return it to him" (Ex. 23:4). While it may not be an ox or a donkey, we are to return to our neighbor property which he has lost and help him to keep what God has given him.
Jesus Himself says: "Everything you would like men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 7:12). The Scriptures require us to treat our neighbor in the same way we would want to be treated. Thus, instead of taking away our neighbor's property and business, we should help and be of service to him in keeping it.
Finally, instead of seeking to obtain the property of others for ourselves, God would have us share what He has given us and help others in their need.
The Bible says, "But do not forget to do good and to share. For with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Heb. 13:16).
Have we kept this commandment as the LORD God requires? Again, we must admit our shortcomings and sins and repent, pleading with the LORD God to deal with us in His grace and mercy for Jesus' sake and imploring His help and strength to amend our ways and live for Him!
In Jesus, and for the sake of His blood shed for us on the cross, we find forgiveness.
The Bible tells us: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ... If anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2).
Dear Lord Jesus, for the sake of Your atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world, forgive me for my selfishness and greed. Forgive me for not loving and caring for others in need. Cleanse my heart and renew my mind that I might live for You and seek to keep Your holy commandments. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House. Devotion is by Randy Moll. He may be contacted at [email protected]. More of Moll's devotional writings reflecting the teaching of the Bible may be freely read at https://goodshepherdonline.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.]