June 11, 2023
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Integrity: Don't Leave Home Without It.
You shall not steal.
This tells us that any time we 1) take anything that belongs to someone else, or 2) keep from someone what we owe to them, we have broken the eighth commandment.
This verse is the perfect amplification: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). This tells us there are three principles wrapped into the command, “do not steal.” which every parent should try to etch into the hearts of their children—and practice in front of their children: integrity, industry, and giving to others.
There are many ways to live without integrity.
Shoplifting. Armed burglary. Stealing in the workplace—embezzlement, pilfering, etc. Taking advantage of personal property, intellectual property, etc; any property of others. All of these things will receive the sure judgment of Almighty God.
Fraud is another form of theft.
Tax evasion and insurance manipulation are not shrewd business operations; they are stealing.
Taking advantage of individuals who do not know how to protect themselves is also stealing.
Jesus warned about the Pharisees “who devour widows’ houses” (see Matthew 23:14).
If you do not give your employer an honest day of good work, you have stolen from him. “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God” (Colossians 3:22).
If you are an employer and you do not pay a man what he is worth, you have stolen from him. “Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven” (Colossians 4:1). God sees when you do not pay what you ought to. (See James 5:4.)
Nobody can win at gambling without somebody else losing. True legitimate business is win-win, but gambling is an attempt to get what belongs to someone else into your possession, without giving him anything for it.
The fact that both are willing does not make it better. A duel is murder by mutual consent, but that doesn’t make it legal.
“Woe to him who increases what is not his…” (Habakkuk 2:6b).
The Bible commands husbands and wives not to defraud the other in the matter of physical, sexual love. (See 1 Corinthians 7:5.)
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). Some children defraud their parents of honor. Some parents defraud their children of guidance, love, and instruction.
Have you given Him your life? You are His, by creation and by redemption. “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
But when you live for self alone, as if Jesus Christ never lived and died, you are stealing from God that which belongs to Him. You walk God’s Earth, you breathe God’s air, you live with the life God has given you. If you do not pour your life back out to God, you are robbing Him.
The tithe is a symbol that everything belongs to God. Don’t think that 10% of what you have belongs to God. All that you have belongs to God, because the One who owns the sheep owns the wool—and you happen to belong to Him.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).
And who else is robbed? You! “Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you” (Jeremiah 5:25).
We also need to teach our children industry. Work is not a curse; work is a blessing. The Bible is clear about the necessity of work. “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10b).
The people of ancient Israel understood the meaning of the eighth commandment, “Do not steal,” and they also understood the fourth commandment which says, “Six days you shall labor.” (See Exodus 20:8-11.) The old Hebrew rabbis used to say, “He who does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal.”
Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage.
But we have boys and girls graduating college today who still do not know how to make a living. Everybody wants to be in a position where they won’t have to work anymore. That would be pathetic. You will never retire from serving God!
This is biblical: you cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the industrious out of it. You do not multiply wealth by dividing it. Government cannot give to anybody anything that it does not first take from somebody else. When somebody receives something without working, somebody else had to work without receiving.
Teach your boys and girls how to work. Start early. “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). That means we shouldn’t get the idea, “Wait till they grow up; then they’ll work. Let children play.”
Let them work when they work, and then when they play, the play will be a whole lot sweeter.
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28; emphasis added). For every negative, there is a positive. The opposite of stealing is giving.
We need to teach our children to work—not only to meet their greeds, but to meet others’ needs. John Wesley once preached, “Gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.” (“The Use of Money,” The Works of John Wesley)
The Apostle Paul wrote,
Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
It is a sin and shame before God that we expect the government to take care of our loved ones when we ourselves ought to do it. And if we would do it with industry, we would have enough to give to ourselves and others.
This kind of living frees us from selfishness. Teach children to give, and there is so much they can give. Teach them to clean up their neighbor’s yard, to go help a widow carry her groceries, to bring their own money to church.
Like the rest of the Ten Commandments, train your children in this by precept, and by example—consistently.
Exodus 20:15; Ephesians 4:28; Matthew 23:14; Colossians 3:22, 4:1; James 5:4; Habakkuk 2:6; 1 Corinthians 7:5; Romans 13:8; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Malachi 3:8; Jeremiah 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Exodus 20:8-11; Ecclesiastes 5:18; Lamentations 3:27; Acts 20:34-35
If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold[ for his theft. If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double.
“…If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”