Summary: Dominant Thought: a proper view of things will help us to carry through the command to not steal
You shouldn’t have been following the car so closely – not on State Street at 5:30 on Friday evening. Maybe they had a brake light out – hard to tell – it all happened so quickly. One minute you’re tooling along thinking about supper, the next you’re watching the BMW trademark race toward your windshield. CRUNCH! But no one is hurt. In fact, the guy you just hit jumps out of his car. He looks at His trunk lid, looks at you, and yells, “You hit me!” Well, no, your car hit his car. It’s probably not the right time to explain that to him. But his words do tell us something: we often treat some of our possessions as an extension of ourselves. It’s true!
If I visited your home, you would probably show me some “stuff.” What you possess is a way of sharing who you are. Also, if I were to take it away, it would injure you – not physically – but it would touch you down deep. It would hurt you as a person.
We don’t have to be consumed by materialism to be affected by possessions. That’s one of the hazards of ownership. You and I live in a country that presents that hazard more strongly than any other country.
Luke 12:15 "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
We know all about the pitfalls of ownership – the temptation of stuff – because we live right in the middle of it.
Some have attempted to argue that the model of the early Church was that of a commune – that everyone was to have equal ownership; a kind of early form of Communism. They try to support such an idea from
Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Acts 4:34-35 There were no needy persons among them. 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.
But I notice in all this there still was such a thing as Ownership. And Peter even said to a couple who sold their property:
Acts 5:4 Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal?
Ownership is a bad thing. It’s also called stewardship. We can say we own things and that’s not a problem as long as we understand by that what we’re saying is we are stewards of what God entrusts to us. But understand there are 2 ways to own:
1. You own the things God grants to you. And this is OK.
We recognize that this is just a temporary grant from the Lord. Just the same, we recognize that we have a God-given privilege of calling some things “mine.”
2. Things own you.
And that’s the bigger issue you and I will be looking at today. When I steal, I don’t just possess something that should belong to someone else. Something possesses me.
That’s why God issues this 8th principle that we’re going to look into this morning:
Exodus 20:15 You shall not steal.
Once again, God isn’t out to spoil our lives. He’s giving us here a principle we need to remain free and unspoiled.
I. 100 Ways to Steal
Story - Clara Null, OK City - After some last-minute Christmas shopping with her grandchildren, her friend was rushing them into the car when 4-year-old Jason said little sister Susie had something in her pocket. He reached in and pulled out a new red barrette.
She was tired, but Grandma knew it was important for Susie to put the item back where she’d found it. They did just that. Later at the grocery store, a clerk asked, "Have you kids been good so Santa will come?" Jason said, "I've been very good, but my sister just robbed a store."
Maybe you’ve never been arrested for stealing. That’s OK. I think I can still establish relevance for all of us here today. In the 1991 book The Day America Told the Truth Americans reported that 74% of them will steal from those who won't miss it.
You’ve heard of the song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”? One writer said there are over 100 synonyms for the act of stealing: bag, boost, embezzle, filch, knock-off, lift, misappropriate, palm, pilfer, pinch, pocket, purloin, rob, snatch, steal, thieve, whip… (sounds more like plastic surgery!)
Point is, there are a lot of ways to steal.
There’s taking tangible things away from someone else: