“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.
[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]