Summary: "Stealing means more than taking; it means primarily withholding something." (Two Tablets a Day by Wm. R. VanerZee,p.97)


(Ex.20:1-15; Mt. 21:28-32)

(“Stealing means more than taking; it means primarily withholding something” Two Tablets a Day by Wm. R. VanderZee, p.97)

It’s obvious from all the security in our stores and the high rates we pay for car insurance that a lot of stealing goes on. Not only did God give a clear command, NOT to steal, but often required restitution for what had been stolen:

“If a sheep or an ox is stolen then killed and sold, the thief must pay back 5 oxen or 4 sheep or he himself will be sold to pay the debt; if the animal is recoverable alive, the thief must pay back double.” Exodus 22:1-4

“If a thing is taken fraudulently from anyone, it must be repaid in full plus one-fifth of its value.” Numbers 5:7

Many of you are familiar with the story of Zacchaeus, the small tax collector who climbed up in the sycamore tree to see Jesus, who said to Zacchaeus:

“Make haste come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

At his home Zacchaeus accepted the Lordship of Christ and promised to give half his goods to the poor, and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation (stolen), I restore it fourfold. Luke 19:8

In one particular area of theft (that we see often today) the punishment is death-that is the theft of a person by kidnapping or abduction.

“The penalty for stealing a person is death.” (Ex. 21:16; Deut. 24:7)

No wonder Joseph’s brothers were so nervous when their father (Israel) died; they were afraid Joseph would carry out the penalty on them for abducting and selling their own brother into slavery.

Listening to these examples of stealing, we do not consider ourselves thieves; we don’t pick pockets, take other people’s cars, crack safes, rob banks, grab things from the store without paying for them. Our temptation to steal does not usually fall under the category of what the police call larceny, stealing.

If we look beyond the physical or material, to the nonmaterial, see how our

thievery mushrooms disguised under the cover of free speech or self-expression or vigilante justice.


--an employee is hired and paid to work an 8 hour day, he or she spends two or three hours of that day on personal phone calls, computer games, over extended lunch breaks.. never mind to what he or she has carried out of the office or shop that is company property but is using for my own personal needs without asking.

--non-material stealing—look how we have allowed our children’s innocence to be stolen. An eight year old today knows more about sex, how to swear, pornography, gambling, than most adults knew 45 years ago.

If you want to see Jesus in one of His sterner expressions turn to Matthew 18:5:

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

You think it’s no big deal to let your youngsters go to R rated movies, surf unrestricted through the internet, go to parties unsupervised by Christian adults, remember the consequences of those who would steal our children’s innocence.

In a month or so, the primary elections will again be held in our state, this year for the governor’s office and other state positions. As you watch the negative campaigns take place, you see again how the character and name of a person is falsely tainted or distorted. The ninth commandment says do not bear false witness against your neighbor. Why? because you are stealing (what I have been calling non-material theft) from the person(his good name, his reputation. This is the theft the religious leaders used against Jesus particularly at his trial before the high priest. Call in witnesses to make false or misleading statements about what He (Jesus) said and did, so we can nail Him to the cross.

You think you are not a thief, that YOU don’t steal like those other people.

Martin Luther, who wrote the church hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, once said to his German congregation back in the 1500s:

“If all the people who are thieves but deny it had to be hanged on the gallows, the world would soon be an abandoned desert, and there would be a shortage of hangmen and gallows.” (Vanderzee, p. 94)

That’s a pretty strong statement coming from a responsible pastor of the 1500s. Was he just exaggerating for hyperbole effect? I don’t think so,


especially when you consider one of the broadest areas of non-material theft going on day after day. It is printed out for you in your bulletin as the lead sentence: “Stealing (the nonmaterial kind) means more than taking; it means primarily withholding something.” (Vanderzee, p. 97):

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