Q. 110. What is God’s will for us in the eighth commandment?
A He forbids not only outright theft and robbery, punishable by law. But in God’s sight theft also includes cheating and swindling our neighbor by schemes made to appear legitimate, such as: inaccurate measurement of weight, size, or volume; fraudulent merchandising; counterfeit money; excessive interest; or any other means forbidden by God. In addition he forbid all greed and pointless squandering of his gifts.
Q. 111. What does God require of you in this commandment?
A That I do whatever I can for my neighbor’s good, that I treat others as I would like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need.
Thievery is a horrible sin against others. When one takes something from another – whether it is money, possessions, time, reputation, or any even their life, through slavery, the very ingredients needed to live and thrive have been denied, and so poverty and hardship results. As followers of Christ we are called to be givers of life not takers of life. Read 1Corinthians 6:9-10.
Many times in the scriptures God decries the thievery of people. One of the classic ways of taking from others was through the use of inaccurate weights and measures. Merchants would present a weight that looked the same size as another, but in fact it was hollowed out or filled with lead depending on whether a customer was buying or selling. This kind of deception continues today with modern advertising and packaging. Recently I noticed that my favorite maker’s ice cream tub looked the same size, but there appeared to be less inside. Upon closer examination, the actual tub was identical to the one in the trash; only the stated weight on the container was reduced by 10%, yet the cost was the same. Is this not a similar form of thievery that God decried? Read Micah 6:9-15.
The unfortunate side effect of thievery is an insatiable appetite for more easy money and an inability to be content with one’s present situation. But Christians are called to be thankful and content. When we are, the opposite of thievery, sharing naturally flows forth. Read Philippians 4:12-13 and Hebrews 13:5.
Christians are to be completely different than the world. We are bearers of Christ’s life and givers of blessing. Paul urges all of us who have ever found thievery in our life to work. Read Ephesians 4:28 to find out why. Sharing is the hallmark of Christ. He shares his life, kingdom and his Father with Christians in an act of love. We are called to imitate that in our temporal world as well.
Not only are we to share, but also we are to bear forth life to other people. We are to seek their good. We are to bless them and ensure that good works and love pour over them in an effort to win others to Christ. Read 1 Peter 2:12.
Isaiah speaks about the kind of fasting God wanted from his people, but these verses are extremely appropriate to thinking about what it means to be bearers of life, not takers of it. Read Isaiah 58:5-10. Though being a bearer of life can feel tiresome, and at times it does take a lot of effort to serve selflessly, Paul urges us not to grow weary of such actions for life giving always brings forth fruit just as the vine always produces grapes. Read Galatians 6:9-10.