You Shall Not Steal


“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 stole steal no longer, but rather let him la­bor, work­ing with his hands what is good, that he may have some­thing to give him who has need” (Eph­e­sians 4:28). God also tells us: “You shall do no in­jus­tice in judg­ment, in mea­sure­ment of length, weight, or vol­ume. You shall have hon­est scales, hon­est weights, an hon­est ephah, and an hon­est hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Leviti­cus 19:35-36).

Psalm 37:21 says: “The wicked bor­rows and does not re­pay, but the right­eous shows mercy and gives.” Jeremiah 22:13 warns: “Woe to him who builds his house by un­righ­teous­ness and his cham­bers by in­jus­tice, who uses his neigh­bor’s ser­vice with­out wages and gives him noth­ing for his work….” Ex­press­ing th­ese same prin­ci­ples, Leviti­cus 19:13 says, “You shall not cheat your neigh­bor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not re­main with you all night un­til morn­ing.” (Cf. Deuteron­omy 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 are poor among you, you shall not be like a money­len­der to him; you shall not charge him in­ter­est” (Ex­o­dus 22:25). God even for­bids us to be lazy and de­pen­dent upon the char­ity of oth­ers when His Word com­mands: “If any­one will not work, nei­ther shall he eat” (2 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 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 bring it back to him again” (Ex­o­dus 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: “What­ever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 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 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” (He­brews 13:16).

Have we kept this com­mand­ment as the LORD God re­quires? Again, we must ad­mit our short­com­ings and sins and re­pent, turn­ing to 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 upon the cross, we find for­give­ness. Cf. Acts 3:19; 1 John 2:1-2.

Dear Lord Je­sus, 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.

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