Are You a Good Person?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You Will Not Steal

This is another of those commandments that, on the surface, you will either feel shame because you have or are stealing, or reassurance because you are not. That's the surface, however. When you look more deeply into it things get a little more harsh. Our perceptions of right and wrong are usually wrong to one degree or another. They have become dulled over the centuries so that a statement like, “Thou shalt not steal” means only one thing. I mean, it's obvious, right? It deals with stealing. The problem is that we tend to feel that if we only take some paper or pencils from the office, that's really not stealing. We put a value on the word. We also limit the word to just taking material objects, when it can be applied to so much more.

Stealing is taking something, anything, regardless of size or value, from another. When we view this commandment with this definition we realize that all of us have broken the Law. Now there will be a few hold-outs. Some who, in the righteousness of their own understanding, will say, “Nope, I'm not even guilty of that.” Well, let's see if I can refresh your memory. Can you account for all of your time? Have you spent time with your spouse, children, or parents the way you should, or have you been lazy or selfish, doing mostly what pleases you? I don't know of anyone who has been so perfect in handling their time that they have not stolen time from their families. How often we watch a movie where a child or parent watches the other die and grieve deeply because they never got to say, “I'm sorry,” or “I love you.” Money you can pay back. Items stolen you can replace. Time, however is a thief of all of us. It robs us and we cannot get that time back, nor can we get time back to make things right when we waste our time and rob time from our friends and families. What about the time we spend with God? Even if we get to Heaven, by the mercy of Jesus Christ, and His blood, and have eternity to praise God, we cannot get back that time that we should have had with Him. We cannot find those quiet hours of prayer we desperately needed in this life. We cannot possibly praise God enough, even if we were to start now and praise Him throughout eternity.

There is another, perhaps more practical aspect of our time stealing from God, which God Himself had His servants write in His Word. In Malachi 3:8 we read, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings.” What we have, all of it, is a blessing from God to be used to bless others as He has blessed us. Not to recognize that is an insult to God. Not to tithe is robbing, not just God, as it says here, but all the people of God. Not being open to hear His voice and give beyond that ten per cent, which is what an offering really is, is to rob Him of His chance to bless us, and our chance to bless Him.

With each commandment we find yet another way in which we have sinned, another reason for God to condemn us. Yet God, who is rich in mercy, says to those who receive His Son, “Blotting out the handwriting of the ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2:14) Let us therefore live a life of service to Him in all gratitude, praise, worship and thanksgiving, not out of command, but out of love for Him who so greatly loved us.