The Eighth Commandment - Weekly Devotional
This week's focus: Ten Commandments
(this is the eighth in our series on the 10 Commandments)
8. You shall not steal
Though it is sometimes violated by the government today, the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that no citizen should be deprived of his or her “property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Given the unquestionable influence of the Ten Commandments on constitutional law, the eighth commandment, found in Exodus 20:15, clearly shaped the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition.
Respect for private possessions is a fundamental principle found in the Bible, as a command not to steal makes sense only if people have the right to own possessions that can be taken unlawfully by those to whom they do not rightfully belong. There is at least one instance in Scripture when the early church lived in a communal setting and individuals shared their possessions freely (Acts 2:42–47), but it is clear that this arrangement was voluntary rather than compulsory. In other words, this communal living coexisted with an acknowledgment of the right of private possessions. Nowhere do we see in Scripture a diatribe against economic differences within the covenant community, only cautions about arrogantly putting hope in wealth and commands not to favor individuals based on their income (Ex. 23:3, 6; 1 Tim. 6:17).
Our right to private possessions must be considered in light of all the Word of God says about riches. Wealthy people are not to be given preference in the church simply because they are wealthy (James 2:1–13). Believers who have been richly blessed with abundance must provide voluntarily and eagerly for the poor (Lev. 19:9–10; 1 Tim. 6:18), including such things as feeding the hungry, creating jobs, supporting relief programs, and more. Ultimately, everything we have belongs to the Lord and we are but stewards of it (Ps. 24:1). Thus, we enjoy His good gifts and give of our increase as He commands.
Finally, the eighth commandment can be broken in a multitude of ways other than rank burglary. We steal when we vote tax increases on other people and not on ourselves as well. Thievery is the rightful charge when we steal time from our employers. Extortion, fraud, and other crimes are likewise examples of theft. May we walk by the Spirit so as not to steal from our neighbors.
© Ligonier Ministries 2010.
You shall not steal.
- As Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” Lord, everything is Yours and You know everything I think and everything I do. You see that which I do in secret. You know if I am stealing, and You’re not convinced by my rationalizations. So, I ask You to help me. Let me see my life as You see it so that I might honor You in choosing to be trustworthy and honest.
- This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving. Watch this special Thanksgiving message to you from the symbolic Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. From all of us at My Faith Votes, Happy Thanksgiving! We truly have so much to be thankful for.
We want to see God honored in America, and we pray for an unprecedented spiritual awakening.
This devotion was produced in partnership with Every Home for Christ.
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