Summary: A look at how people steal from others and from God
Let’s start this morning by taking a little informal survey. Anyone here ever had money stolen from them? Ok, how about tools, anyone ever have tools stolen, how about borrowed and not returned? Anyone ever have a bicycle stolen, Anyone ever have a car stolen. What about having something stolen from your car, like say a computer. Anyone here ever have their home broken into? When we were living in Truro Angela had her purse stolen off the kitchen cupboard one night while she was watching television in the TV room. There is something intensely personal about having an object stolen from you, it is a violation and you feel hurt and confused, who would do something like this. Maybe you felt angry, anger is often an emotion that you feel after you’ve been violated. So to a certain degree I understand the sign that was posted that said, “This property protected by a pit bull with aids”
Here’s the flip side, a little more personal here. How many people here have ever stolen? Now I realize that I’m asking the wrong crowd, but maybe if we take it away from today and move it into the distant past. Maybe candy as a child, or money from your mother’s purse or father’s wallet. Or maybe it was a toy from a store? Maybe it was office supplies from work, or a little creative accounting on your tax return. Or maybe, it was taking a grape and eating it in the produce section of Sobey’s, like that would ever happen. Anyone fall into those categories? We’ve just taken your picture and are turning it into the police. Have I got your attention? Could I honestly say today that everyone here falls into one of those two categories as having been stolen from or has stolen from someone else?
We all have something lurking inside of us that is fascinated with the concept of getting something for nothing. Something that lives deep inside that says “boy, if I could get that for nothing that would be great.” Which explains why so many shoplifters who are caught don’t need to shoplift. They aren’t doing it out of necessity they are doing it for the thrill. And so the God is saying here Don’t let that desire to get something for nothing win out.
And so here we are at the eighth commandment, part of a series that we started back almost in the last century. The first four commandments were vertical commandments dealing with our relationship with God, the fifth commandment turned the corner and said “honour your parents” it was the beginning of our horizontal relationships that is our relationships with one another. The next two dealt with those types of relationships, the sixth was do not kill, or respect the life of others, the seventh was do not commit adultery or respect the love of others, and today we are dealing with commandment number eight, which speaks against that desire when it says in stark simplicity Exodus 20:15 Do not steal., or Respect The Loot Of Others.
The Bible does not have a problem with us having “Stuff”. It does however lay out the right way to acquire stuff, and the wrong way to acquire stuff. The first correct way to gain property or money is to Work For It. Ephesians 4:28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need. So the first acceptable way to acquire property or stuff is to work, get paid and buy the stuff you need. And you should have enough left over to help others.
And if you acquire property in this manner as a side benefit you will develop self respect, self esteem and confidence. Most of us will never forget the feeling of accomplishment we had when we purchased our first car or first home. Look what I’ve done.
The second Biblically acceptable way of acquiring stuff is through Shrewd Investments or trading. Remember Jesus commendation of the good servants in Matthew chapter 25. The master had given them a certain amount of money and they had traded and invested it while he was away on business and when he returned they were able to present him with the profits of their investments. Do you recall what the master told them? Matthew 25:21 “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”
And so honest shrewd trading is an acceptable means of acquiring stuff.
A third Biblically acceptable means for acquiring property is through Believing Prayer. Do you remember how Jesus taught us to pray Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. He was telling us that it was alright to pray for physical needs.