Christ on Personal Property Rights (Exodus 22:1-15)

Personal property and its protection seems more like a legal issue than a Biblical issue but the Mosaic Law applies the 8th commandment,

Thou shall not steal (Exodus 20:15),

to many other areas of life where personal negligence or trust are involved.  In these 15 verses, direct thievery is dealt with four times, grazing patterns once, fire once, and caretaking of another’s property three times.  Each of these is a specific application of the command not to steal.  As can be seen from the context, thievery can occur intentionally and unintentionally through negligence.  Both are to be guarded against.  Again, we are called to be people who give life not take it.  We are to watch over our neighbor’s property just as we watch over our own and we are to take great care that our actions will not negatively hinder another’s property.  We are to be generous people not pirates.  While this passage is strictly dealing with the punishment aspect of failing to keep the 8th commandment, Christ is seen as the one who not only kept it perfectly but who also generously gave of all he has in heaven in order for us to enjoy his life.  We are freely given the best, just as he calls us to give our best away should we take something that belongs to another.  The great difference is he openly offered the gift, while we secretly despise such punishments.  Christ is calling us to reevaluate how we live life and care for our property and the property of others.

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2Corinthians 9:11)

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1Timothy 6:18)

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About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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