eMeditation on the Bible 

 

Question: What is the deeper meaning of the eighth commandment: ďDo not stealĒ? 

 

General Principles 

Of course, all cultures and nations have prohibited forcibly taking what belongs to someone else. This law is necessary to maintain order within any society. However, the meaning of the eighth commandment is based on a deeper reality:  

1.     The Bible teaches that the earth and everything in it belongs to God.  

2.     Therefore, the true owner of all that we have is God.  

3.     The Bible also teaches that our possessions Ė as well as our talents and opportunities in life Ė are loaned to us by God as a stewardship, a trust. This means our possessions and money are given to us by God as a responsibility to manage on Godís behalf in order to achieve Godís purposes for Godís blessings in our life.  

4.     The context of this principle is the greater principle that God wants everyone on earth to have enough of Godís resources to enjoy life without suffering from inadequate food, housing, clothing, opportunities to work, and access to healthcare, etc.  

5.     Accordingly, God gives us possessions and money both for our own wellbeing and enjoyment of life and to share with those who are needy so that they can experience wellbeing and enjoyment of life.  

 

Application of Principles 

Therefore, stealing does not only consist in forcibly taking what belongs to someone else.  

1.     Failing to be a good steward of Godís blessings by failing to share with those who are less fortunate and struggling to survive in life is also form of stealing. We are stealing from both God, the true owner of our possessions, and needy people when we do not share our resources with those who lack what they need for a life of wellbeing that can be enjoyed as a blessing from God. 

2.     Employers who do not pay their workers an adequate wage are stealing from them. 

3.     Merchants who charge customers excessive prices for the goods they sell are stealing. 

4.     Corporations who, for commercial purposes, use legal tricks to take ownership of land which has belonged to the people who live on the land and displace them from the land are stealing. 

 

Respond by Growing 

Examine your life and how you handle the possessions and resources God has blessed you with. Have you only used them for your own pleasure and comfort? Have you viewed them as belonging to you alone without any responsibility to God for how you manage them?  

 

Recognize that all you have belongs to God and you are accountable to God for what you do with your possessions, money and other resources (such as positions of power and influence within your workplace, community, neighborhood and family). Take time to find out who the people are within your vicinity that are needy in various ways. Then determine how to best reach out to them and share Godís blessings in whatever ways you are able to ease their struggles and suffering.