You shall not steal.
In comparison with Commandments five, six and seven, on the surface this is very straight forward but is no less important because of its simplicity.
The previous three carry many challenges and implications of which our brief comments have only just begun to scratch the surface but it is my prayer that we will each have been encouraged to dig deeper into the depts of meaning which they contain.
As we come to number eight Thomas Watson once again helps us to understand why it is included in the ten when he writes:
As we consider this apparently simple commandment let us consider the question ‘What can be stolen?’ It may seem a silly question but we need to examine ourselves.
As the holiness of God sets him against uncleanness, in the command ‘You shall not commit adultery;’ so the justice of God sets him against rapine (the violent seizure of someone’s property) and robbery, in the command, ‘You shall not steal.’
Clearly anything physical and moveable can be stolen and most if not all of us will not be guilty at this level. We have not broken and entered and lifted some desirable item! Yes we may have pocketed items which we use in our daily work which are supplied by our employers for the carrying out of such work and not for our own use. But even little things like this can be the thin edge of the wedge leading to a dangerously casual attitude when dealing with what we rightfully owe to various authorities such as HMRC for our taxes. Is this a case for honest examination?
But looking beyond the physical.
Have we ever stolen someone’s reputation by things we have said?
Have we stolen from others by default when we have withheld something that is in our power to do for them?
Have we stolen the ‘Word of Life’ from someone by not telling it when opportunity arises.
Have we stolen from God in withholding some area of service which we are equipped to offer?
Have we stolen from God by holding back some part of ourselves which we want to retain for ourselves when he wants all of us?
Challenging questions as we serve the God who commanded his people:
‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy’ Leviticus 19.2
Post the cross we have been made holy, by the blood of Jesus, so that we can stand in God’s presence but can we be holy without being obedient?