“You shall not steal.” — Exodus 20:15 (NIV84)
Like the commandment not to kill, this commandment is one we too quickly dismiss — we’re sure it doesn’t apply to us. When we think about stealing we think about robbing someone or their business, and we are quick to justify ourselves because we have never overtly stolen from anyone. Once again, Martin Luther added some incredible perspective to this commandment. He stated, “We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.” Luther forces us to look at sins of commission and sins of omission in his explanation to this commandment. It’s not enough to simply avoid the sting of this commandment by stating that we never committed the physical act. Luther reminds us that we are our brothers’ keeper. We have the obligation and responsibility to do everything in our power to help our neighbors keep and steward what they have.
One last thought about this commandment. I shudder every time I read Malachi and hear God say, “Why are you robbing me from My rightful tithes and offerings?” We may not be robbing people, but are we failing to be proper stewards of all that has the Lord has blessed us with? We need to be good stewards of the time, talents and possessions the Lord has given us.
May we avoid stealing from God and those around us.