A Gallup poll a few years back on Teens and the Ten Commandments revealed:79% believe the Ten Commandments are relevant guidelines for morality.85% can name at least one command.35% can name five or more (disappointing).The most easily remembered is the eighth.Exo 20:15 NIV "You shall not steal.
What's wrong with stealing?1. Stealing violates the community because it destroys trust.2. More inmates are imprisoned for property crimes than about anything else.3. Since I moved to CA in 1986, my homes have been burglarized three times, my church offices twice, and I've had two cars stolen. None of those happened in TX.4. The first recorded sin was essentially theft.
The first sin in the Promised Land was theftTheft is not just a sin of scummy people. My guess is the first sin any of us can remember vividly had to do with taking something that wasn't ours.
*** It's okay to own things.*** It's wrong to steal precisely because it's right to own things.There's a popular misconception that the early Christians were a communal society in which there was no private ownership of property.That misconception is based on a misinterpretation of Biblical texts:
This was not communism. It was a voluntary expression of concern for one another.The first capital sin among the early Christians was set in a context that approved ownership of property. Peter said as much to Ananias & Sapphira:
It's okay to own things, but things must never own people.Why do people steal?Some do it for preservation; some for excitement; some because of mental imbalance.Most do it because they are materialistic.
Jesus’ rhetorical question:
If our priorities are right, God will provide:The real problem with a thief is that he's not satisfied with what God has given him.You don't rehabilitate a thief by imprisonment, but by teaching him to be content.
One kind of stealing involves taking what others should have. It may be overt or covert:Overt stealing is what we usually call theft.Taking something, thinking no one will miss it. It's amazing how we rationalize things like pilfering little things from work, friends, acquaintances, etc.
Is it ever right to steal? Stealing dishonors God. Is it ever right to dishonor God?Most of us are pretty comfortable so far, because we're not thieves - or are we?
Covert stealing is something we call swindling - a more subtle form of theft.Most people's morality in selling is not based on "Is it right?" but "Can I get away with it?"There's a legal term, "puffing", that refers to exaggerating a product in order to sell it. The rationalization is that "everybody does it". For example, when you're selling a used car & by the time you get through describing it, the buyer wonders why you're selling.
Buying short & selling long.Look closely at the list of people who will not inherit the Kingdom of God:
Another kind of stealing involves keeping what others should have.Unpaid debts.Borrowing may not be practical, but it is Biblical.Rom 13.8 is abused by many.*** The NIV handles it well. Pay what you owe when it is due.Bankruptcy laws make it possible for people with money to incorporate a dozen companies, run them into the ground, then declare bankruptcy to avoid paying their debts. That may be legal, but it's certainly immoral.
Unfair wages.Employer. God holds you accountable for your dealings with your employes. God hears the cries of those who aren't paid what they're promised.Employees. Are you accustomed to padding your hours & your expense account? To take money that is not due you is thievery.
The way to avoid taking is to give.
Paul's reason for writing that is the past lives of some Christians:
Paul taught that the motive for getting is to be able to give.
The way to evidence repentance is to make restitution.
Prayer: Father, help us to be honest. Things sometimes own us. If we've defrauded someone, convict us & help us repent & repay, because we want to inherit the kingdom.Anything you set your heart on here will disappoint you. There is no security in your bank or savings institution. Put your treasure where it's safe.
Genesis 3:1-6 NIV<br />Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" <br />
Genesis 3:1-6 NIV<br />"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.<br />
Joshua 7:20-21 NIV<br />Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath."<br />
Acts 2:44-45 NIV<br />All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.<br />
Acts 4:32-37 NIV<br />All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. <br />
Acts 4:32-37 NIV<br />For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.<br />
Acts 5:4 NIV<br />Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."<br />
Luke 12:15 NIV<br />Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."<br />
1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIV<br />But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.<br />
Matthew 16:26 NIV<br />What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?<br />
Matthew 6:33 NIV<br />But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.<br />
Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV<br />Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.<br />
Proverbs 30:7-9 NIV<br />"Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.<br />
Deuteronomy 25:13-16 NIV<br />Do not have two differing weights in your bag--one heavy, one light. Do not have two differing measures in your house--one large, one small. You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. For the LORD your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.<br />
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV<br />Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.<br />
Romans 13:8 <br />NASB Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.<br />NIV Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.<br />
James 5:4-5 NIV<br />Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.<br />
Ephesians 4:28 NIV<br />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.<br />
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV<br />Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. <br />
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV<br />And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.<br />
Exodus 22:1 NIV<br />"If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.<br />
Leviticus 6:1-7 NIV<br />The LORD said to Moses: "If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do--<br />
Leviticus 6:1-7 NIV<br />when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering. <br />
Leviticus 6:1-7 NIV<br />And as a penalty he must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, his guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any of these things he did that made him guilty."<br />
Luke 19:1-10 NIV<br />Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. <br />
Luke 19:1-10 NIV<br />When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.“ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'" <br />
Luke 19:1-10 NIV<br />But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."<br />
Matthew 6:19-21 NIV <br />"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.<br />