Summary: Part eight of this series focuses on the eighth commandment, "You shall not steal."
The Ten Commandments Part 8
This is part eight of my series “The Ten Commandments.” I want to begin this message with a few questions to hopefully set the stage for the commandment we will cover this morning. How many of you have ever “tested” the ripeness or sweetness of grapes in the produce aisle to determine if you wanted to purchase the grapes? Have you ever purchased candy where you filled the bag and you paid according to how many ounces and/or pounds you purchased? If you have ever brought this type of candy, did you snack on the candy before you paid for it as you continued your shopping within the store? What would be the harm since you were eating the candy out of the bag you were purchasing? Let’s make this more personable. Have you ever been given too much change back from a cashier and you kept it as a blessing from God? What about having a co-worker clock you out because you had to leave work early and you did not want to lose any of your pay? Or, you were running late so you called your co-worker to clock you in so you were not docked pay for being late? I have just one more example. You work in an office that purchase office supplies “to be used within the office only.” These supplies include pencils, pens, note pads, etc. You routinely take some of the items home with you because everybody does it and it’s no big deal. I want you to keep these examples in your mind as I will revisit them later. But one thing I want you to know up from and remember, God will NEVER bless you with deceit or something stolen. He does not need to steal and He definitely does not need us to steal!
If you have not already figured it out, the commandment for today is the eighth commandment found in Exodus 20:15. It says, “Thou shall not steal.” Stealing is defined as, “to take something unlawfully; taking something belonging to someone else without their permission.” This definition is very broad because its application is broad. All of know that it is wrong to steal. It is wrong to take something that does not belong to you. We understand this concept because none of us would like to have our personal possessions stolen from us. But here is the problem, our definition of stealing does not always line up with what God’s definition of stealing is and that my friends is what I hope to clear up this morning. Through this message I hope you will leave here today with a very clear understanding of what is and is not acceptable when it comes to taking the property of someone else without their permission. It’s interesting to me that “stealing” is so important to God that He includes it as one of the prohibitions found in the Ten Commandments. In the Hebrew the word steal means to thieve, or to be a thief. But there’s more to it than that. The word implies that a person is “willing to deceive” another. How many of you know that you don’t steal from a person or deceive a person accidently? How many of you know that there is some forethought that takes place before you steal from someone? And, after the deed is done, you commit another sin when you lie when asked if you are the culprit.
I have one very vivid memory of when I was a child and I got caught stealing. This memory was permanently burned into my mind not only because of the consequences that I experienced, but also the pleasure. Let me explain, when I was a child my older brother had a paper route. Now this was during the days when the paperboy had to go to their customers’ homes to collect their subscription payment. One day my brother had finished counting the money he had collected from his customers and left it lying on the floor in our bedroom (why he did this I shall never know, maybe it was to tempt me which it did.) I saw the money and thought about what I could get if I just took one dime which he probably would not miss. I was not thinking that this would make him come up short with what he owed the company as I was focusing on what I could get with the dime. So I stole the dime and went to the store that was located besides my grandmother’s home. This store was owned by a local minister who had very reasonable priced food. With the dime I purchase a bag of potato chips. But I got caught. I got caught because even though I had hidden my goodies under my shirt I decided to share them with my next door neighbor. (How many of you know that when you are successful it’s hard not to share it with someone? I was successful in getting the dime and buying the chips. It was too good not to share it with somebody.) As I was showing him what I had brought with the dime I had stolen, my brother saw me. Of course he now ran and told my mother that I had been to the store which meant I had taken the money from his paper route since none of us had money to buy anything at that time. Well you can imagine what my mother did to me with my brother watching and smiling. But you know what, after I received my punishment, my best friend and I ate those potato chips.