Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Exodus 20:15 You Shall Not Steal

"You shall not steal."

Exodus 20:15 (NIV)

One of the best commentaries on this verse is a note found in the NIV Study Bible on Exodus 20:15:

"Stealing deprives others of what God has entrusted to them."

We usually focus upon the injustice done to the victim of a thief, but the above comment puts the emphasis upon what is truly important:  God gave that person every thing which they have.  How dare anyone steal it and think that they will get away with the matter?

As Proverbs 5:21 states,

"For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths."

Therefore, to think that someone can take something which belongs to another, and get away with it, is the height of foolishness.  Of course, a thief may think for a while that he has gotten away with stealing, but perhaps he should consider that the LORD is merely being merciful and giving him time to repent and change his ways.

Exodus chapter 22 (which is coming up shortly in our commentary) will deal more extensively with this matter of stealing and the measures used to punish a thief and protect personal property, so I won't go into all those verses right now.  However, when I think about this verse in Exodus 20:15, another set of verses always comes to mind.  These verses offer a solution for the one who is often tempted to steal.  Since one of the purposes of this blog is to help us understand God's Word so that we can do what pleases Him, I figure that this is a useful way to proceed in this case.

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament, he is speaking in chapter 4 of how Christians should "...put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its sinful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."(v.22-24)  He goes on to explain that we should put off falsehood and speak truthfully with one another, and deal correctly with anger so that the devil does not gain a foothold in our lives. (v. 25-27).  Then these verses on stealing come along:

"He who has been stealing
must steal no longer,
but must work,
doing something useful with his own hands,
that he may have something to share with those in need."

Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)

We see that the focus has completely changed from a selfish grasping after what others have, to a mindset where one works in an honest fashion in order to

                                             1) provide for himself and, also,

                                             2) to have enough to be able to give to others.

One who has come to believe in God does not need to steal in order to have what is necessary for life.  Remember,

 "God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work.

As it is written,
'He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,
his righteousness endures forever.'

Now he who supplies seed to the sower
and bread for food
will also increase your store of seed
and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
You will be made rich in every way
so that you can be generous on every occasion,
and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."

II Corinthians 9:8-11 (NIV)

I notice in the above verses that our needs will be met "in all things at all times".  These few words certainly cover every situation of need which we may encounter.

I also noticed that we "...will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion,..." 
not so that we can spend our riches upon ourselves.

Finally, the purpose of our generosity should be that we give so that thanksgiving goes to God, not to ourselves. 


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