You Shall Not Steal
You can steal someone’s thunder or their heart. You can steal a base in baseball or even steal away with the one you love. Of course, these are not the types of stealing meant in Exodus 20:15.
Back when the Ten Commandments were written, “You shall not steal” meant to take the material possessions (money, clothes, cattle, etc.) of someone without their consent. There were lots of ways to do that – robbery, burglary, pickpocketing, sheep stealing, cattle rustling, etc.
There were other ways that people could steal as well – cheating someone out of a deal or sale by overcharging them or giving too little change back. There’s shoplifting and fixing scales to weigh thing out so that it appears that someone is buying more than they actually are. In Jesus’ day, tax collectors often collected too much money when collecting taxes, and so they were considered thieves and traitors to their people.
Since those days, people have found other ways to steal…
You can take also take things from work, school, or a hotel, assuming that it’s “okay, because they have plenty and won’t miss it”. There’s also stealing someone’s research, copying someone’s homework, cheating or falsifying a job application, and other forms of fraud. Thieves use skimmers on gas pumps, ATMs and other electronic devices. There are also con artists, scammers and identity thieves who seek to take your money and give you little or nothing in return.
Cheating and stealing are obviously wrong.
Jesus summed up God’s Law and the Commandments in this way –
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
Everyone is our neighbor.
If you love someone, you should not want to take anything away from them, unless you know that it will cause them harm. This would be like a parent taking a sharp object away from a small child so that they do not harm themselves. Otherwise, to take away from someone (to steal) is to cause harm, not only to our neighbor, but also to ourselves. We are called not to harm our neighbors, but to help and build them up.
Lord, rather than take from others to build ourselves up, let us instead seek to help those who are in need. Let each of us look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. Amen.
– Pastor Bill