Dear Jesus, You have told us that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, while You came to earth that all might have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10). As we have seen the enemy steal, kill, and destroy in horrific ways, our hearts have broken, and we admit that at times we’ve said, “Well, at least I didn’t steal that.” But we know that we have broken Your eighth command time after time and our sin is just as grievous to You as theirs. As we enter our study this week, open our eyes to see how our own sin has stolen life from others. Guide us in all truth and protect us from the schemes of the enemy, including the distractions that aren’t from You. May we be humble as You sanctify us to reflect You in all we think, say, and do. We love You, Lord.
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And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
“You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15
Full of sin from birth, little children steal early, often, and with little guise. They certainly aren’t model criminals, leaving trails of cookie crumbs, candy wrappers, and dirty handprints where they don’t belong. When caught, they cry out, “But I really wanted it!” Or “But she wasn’t using it.”
What was something you especially pined after — and maybe snatched from someone else — when you were a child?
As we age, we usually become more sophisticated in our thievery — in how we pull it off and in how we justify it in our minds. We tend to defend ourselves with lies or with feeble attempts at explaining why the big corporation won’t be hurt if we fudge our hours or how the big box store won’t miss the items we forgot to take from our carts. Other times we steal intangible things that touch people’s minds and emotions, endanger physical safety or innocence, shake personal confidence or credibility, and destroy trust.
What are some other examples of stealing that we try to justify or even celebrate now as adults both tangible and intangible?
In all civilized societies, stealing is considered wrong, but that doesn’t stop our movie industry from romanticizing criminal behavior. Just think about the movies about bank heists, car thefts, and other adrenaline-fueled adventures that portray con men as likeable and the bad guys as the victims.
We think, “Well, I wouldn’t ever do that,” but whether childish or seasoned in our responses, all theft is sin and egregious to God. In fact, throughout the Bible, God groups stealing alongside sins we tend to think as worse than others — murder, sexual immorality, adultery, and idolatry. But the truth is that no sin is acceptable to a holy God. All sin dishonors Him, impacts others, and speaks to our discontent with the blessings He has bestowed upon us.
I recently asked my three littlest ones a few questions about stealing, knowing that childish answers often help me return to the simplicity and authority of commandments from God’s Word. When asked to define stealing, my 10-year-old daughter said, “To take something that’s not yours without permission.”
My 6-year-old daughter added, “Not being kind.”
“OK,” I said, “you know that stealing is wrong, so why do you do it?”
My 8-year-old daughter replied, “I want something that bad, and I think God can’t see me. Satan is pulling me to it.”
You got that right, girl. Even as adults, we want something that’s not in our possession, and we believe a lie that our actions to get it are invisible, even to our all-seeing, all-knowing Creator God. But we forget that everything belongs to God (Psalm 24:1).
I know well that depending on the day my littles are either the bloodhound pilfers of hidden gum and candy breaking the eighth commandment or the angry victims of said crime who have yet to fully grasp their VBS verse — Where your treasure is, your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). So I asked them, “Can you muster up enough power on your own to resist the enemy?”
My 8-year-old daughter replied, “I need to believe that Jesus is real and know in my heart that He loves me. I need to believe He can help me.”
Her little sister piped in, “Jesus can do the power for you!”
Amen, sister. On our own, our fleshly bodies still wrestle with the allure of sin, but we can call upon the Holy Spirit to guide us away from sin and into righteous living. In Him, we can live the antonym of thievery, choosing to bring life and blessing to others in an expansive obedience to the eighth commandment.
What is one way you can bring life to another person today?
Creator God, all the earth and all that is in it is Yours. Forgive us for the times we have forgotten that You own everything and that all stealing is against You. Forgive us for hurting others, for taking what doesn’t belong to us. Thank You for the reminders this week to choose to bless others, to live the antonym of thievery. Help us to fully obey Your commandment to not steal. May we reflect You in all we do. We love You.