Summary: #8 in 10 Commandment Series
TEXT: Ex. 20:15; Eph. 4:28; Mal. 3:8-14
INTRO: When we think of “stealing” we usually picture a hardened criminal like a bank robber or the “cat burglar” or perhaps someone who is a kleptomaniac. Certainly this command speaks to those type of people, but there is another realm to stealing besides the hardened criminal, it is the many ways we find each day in our common lives to steal; such things as robbing someone of compassion, taking away someone’s good name with gossip, deciding those pencils the company bought belong at your house instead of the office, and even the failure to give to God His tithes and offerings!
So often people take what is not theirs because they can’t or won’t wait for it, or believe they shouldn’t have to wait for it. We all know that we can’t always have what we want when we want it.
ILLUS: The person who looks for quick results in the seed planting of well-doing will be disappointed. If I want potatoes for dinner tomorrow, it will do me little good to plant them in my garden tonight. There are long stretches of darkness and invisibility and silence that separate planting and reaping. During the stretches of waiting, there is cultivating and weeding and nurturing and planting still other seeds. -- Eugene Peterson, Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 4.
Stealing destroys relationships that are built on trust, and it destroys self respect when one receives by theft that which does not belong to them. Stealing destroys character as it breeds corruption. Theft can compromise our relationship with one another and with God, in this way it hurts the soul and society.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that God condemns the taking of anything that does not rightfully belong to us, that taking from others or from Him that which is not rightfully ours destroys our soul and society.
I. STEALING FROM MAN Ex. 20:15; Eph. 4:28
A. Receiving Eph. 4:28
1. There are only 3 ways of getting anything in life:
a. By GIFT – an act of grace, the receiver may or may not deserve the gift.
(1. Salvation falls into this category
(2. We don’t deserve to be saved, but God offers us His salvation if we simply ask, there is nothing we can do to deserve it, we just simply cast ourselves at His feet and confess our sins and He graciously forgives and saves us.
(3. The act of getting a gift is an act of love on the givers part, the receiver is usually overwhelmed and grateful.
b. By WORK – a way of getting by earning.
(1. This way of getting things has a lot to do with us, we receive by deserving what we get, for services rendered.
(2. Since this kind of getting involves our efforts it usually produces a sense of self respect because what we receive is connected by sacrifice on our part through work.
(3. This is why God created work even before Adam’s fall into sin, God had Adam work the garden before he sinned, this way the fruit he enjoyed would bring self respect and satisfaction, this is an honorable way for people to get things.
(4. This way of receiving often motivates us to work even harder and more sacrificially since we are blessed by what we receive – thus it makes self and society productive.
c. By THEFT – this is the only other way to receive something, by simply stealing it or taking it!
(1. This does not create self respect, rather, it creates self hatred.
(2. This does not create productivity, it creates loss.
(3. This does not produce trust, it breeds suspicion.
(4. Because it both destroys the soul and society God has issued a command against it.
2. Tragically, there are too many people today that see stealing as the only way to get ahead in this world and too many that only view it as a nuisance rather than an issue of conscience and the soul.
3. Our society today has become one of taking whatever seems to be available whether it is ours or not.
ILLUS: A London taxi driver used to wrap up his garbage each day and leave it in the backseat of his cab. Always by the end of the day, it was gone. Someone had taken it and gotten a big surprise. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
4. No wonder we live in a society that has learned to put bars on the windows of their homes, or double locks on their doors, or to use video surveillance equipment in nearly every establishment.
a. We have become a society that doesn’t trust anyone anymore.
b. The prices we pay for things has factored into it a price to cover the large amount of theft that is practiced by common people every day.