Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Loving People: Part 4

Commandment 8: You must not steal

Stealing from another person violates their personal boundaries.  For the ancient Israelites, stealing could have even more dire consequences than it does for people today. At the time of Moses, most belongings that a person had would relate to their survival. Remember, God's people are in the desert. They are trying to gather food, have shelter, and keep warm. Their clothing is not for fashion, it's for warmth. Stealing could, and likely would, result in a person having a harder time surviving.  So when we think about stealing today, then yes, stealing personal belongings does violate a person's boundaries. This is against what God would want from his people. But it’s even worse when you consider the perspective of the person being stolen from. What do they lose, and what will be the fallout in their lives because of what you’ve done?  Not only is this commandment saying “Don’t steal;” it’s saying “Don’t hurt another person in order to make your own life better.”

Why were people so up in arms when the Bernie Madoff scandal broke?  Beyond being unbelievable that 65 million dollars could have been lost due to an elaborate and long running Ponzi scheme, people uninvolved were angry.  Individuals were conned.  Charities were conned.  We see things like this happen and we think, “How can someone take from other people that maliciously?”  Okay, so you probably aren’t running a decades-long Ponzi scheme, but even taking something small from someone else can hurt them.  See life from the perspective of the one you’re stealing from.  How are you hurting them?

To repent of our envy and desire to steal learn is to become grateful for what we have, instead of wanting what another has.  We learn to, as Paul puts it, "Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess 5:16-18).
May we rejoice and be grateful for what God's given us.  May we never let our desires cause harm to another.

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