You shall not steal. Exodus 20.15
The eighth commandment seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? Maybe even simple. But I reminded our church this past March that, during the NCAA basketball tournament, employers in the United States estimated a 3.8 billion dollar profit loss due to employees who called in ‘sick’, failed to show up, or watched basketball while on the clock. Stealing is alive and well—and being accomplished in epic proportions by clean-cut Americans. No, no. Most of us wouldn’t make our way out of Home Depot with a stolen hammer. Nor would we swipe the doily from our neighbor’s end table. But stealing goes much, much deeper than simple, obvious theft. Think it out. Stealing includes…
-Laying down on the job and getting paid for it (see above).
-Walking out of work with permanently borrowed company supplies.
-Failing to be honest when we receive too much change (or too many hamburgers).
-Fixing our income tax, budget, or other reports.
-Not paying back our loans on time.
-Bargaining to not pay back our loans to the fullest amount.
-Accepting payment for services we did not perform completely, properly, or honestly.
-Burning bootleg copies of video, audio, and software.
-Refusing God His tithes and offerings (Malachi 3.9).
-Refusing God the glory due His name.
-Turning religious worship into a profiteering campaign (Matthew 21.13).
-Stealing someone’s chastity (Proverbs 23.26-28).
-Refusing justice to the poor and needy (Ezekiel 22.29).
-Copying others’ work without giving credit…particularly abominable among pastors! (Jeremiah 23.30).*
-Robbing others of their good name by slander.
-Leading others astray theologically (John 10.1-5).
So maybe you’re not a shop-lifter or a midnight raider of homes…but, if this is the standard, have you been a thief? I have. So what do we need to do?
Remember the story of the thief on the cross:
One of the criminals who were hanged with Him was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And indeed we are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23.39-43
If you are a thief, I hope this little article places you, for a brief moment, “under the same sentence of condemnation.” Then I hope it causes you to cry out with your thieving brother to the Savior who is willing and able to save thieves!
*In the spirit of the eighth commandment, note that I have been greatly helped above by Brian Edwards’ The Ten Commandments for Today and Alistair Begg’s Pathway to Freedom!