Although this happened previously in our country and happens in other countries, we live at an unprecedented time with the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture hearing testimonies since 2018. Their mandate is to investigate allegations of state capture, corruption, fraud, and other allegations in the public sector including organs of state. It is estimated that about R250 billion was syphoned out of State Coffers through State Capture. Remember that this is just one of the many areas where money has “disappeared” in our country. Theft, fraud and illegally obtaining money or services falls under the umbrella of stealing. God says …
Ex 20:15 “You shall not steal.”
Always remember that although the Ten Commandments were given to Israel and become part of the Christian Faith, God’s intent is that all people everywhere need to live under these requirements. This Commandment’s intent is to protect the assets of a person, community or country. Let’s try to understand what it means that we do not steal.
1) Everything on this planet belongs to God. Surely if God is the Creator, everything He created belongs to Him. This includes everything that can be used to create an economy.
Ps 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
As all Scripture is God breathed, lovers of God and His Word agree with the Psalmist. Into the mix comes the ability to generate an income. As we are God’s, He empowers us with abilities and gifts whereby we educate ourselves, obtain employed as we pray and conduct our work for His glory. The bottom line is that everything we have and all we possess, including ourselves belongs to God.
2) The Commandment includes stealing from God. Many Christians wish they could tear Malachi 3:10 out of the Bible or they say “that was the Old Testament” and does not apply to Christians.
Mal 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.”
The reason God addresses this matter is because His people were withholding their tithes, the portion that belonged to God for the maintenance of His Kingdom on Earth.
Mal 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.” “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.”
This interaction hits right to what stealing from God is. Take note it was not just tithes, but offerings too. A “tithe” was 10% and offerings came in various shapes. If all God’s people tithed correctly there would never be needs in the church such as the staff’s salary, building maintenance, looking after widows and orphans, supporting evangelism and missions, etc. Yet, mostly believers do not tithe properly and often the pastors and leaders of the church are the most guilty. Sadly, this is the most serious method of stealing … stealing from God.
3) The Commandment forbids stealing in general. Who would think that Christians steal? Paul addressed people at the Church in Ephesus saying:
Eph 4:28 “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”
He is saying that some Christians were still practicing what they did before salvation … theft. Christians are not to steal.
4) Why would Christians want to steal? What would be the reason followers of the Lord Jesus take from people, business or state, things that do not belong to them? It is because of a lack of faith. Don’t you think it ironic that Christians can trust Jesus for eternity … but they can’t trust Jesus for the here and the now? We trust God for what we can’t yet see or feel through the eye of faith … yet through that same eye of faith we can’t trust God for what we can see and feel! Look at how it continues
Mal 3:10“Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
We can test God for eternity but not for our present needs right now! If you have time please read through … Matthew 6:25-34:
Mt 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
This verse shows us how to trust God and test God for both eternal and temporal things. When our focus is securely on the Lord Jesus and heaven, we will serve Him and obey Him faithfully, growing in holiness and then He will provide our every need … need not greed.
5) Some practical applicatory aspects of this Commandment for Christians.
(a) It ought to be taken for granted that anything not belonging to us belongs to someone else. It’s not ours therefore we may not take it! This could range from photocopies and pens at work to not being at work for the required hours or not producing during those hours.
(b) It could be taking another’s hard work and expertise and using it as your own.
(c) It could be breaking copyright laws which is theft, be it downloading material such as music or movies without paying.
(d) It includes cheating in any exam, be it through taking “crib notes” into the exam room or glancing over someone else’s shoulder to copy their answers.
(e) It could be damaging someone’s good name, reputation or image maliciously.
(f) It includes borrowing money and not paying it back. (This includes borrowing anything else. Christians are notorious for borrowing books and never returning them. This is a reason a pastor will rather buy someone a book before lending a book.)
(g) It includes not paying rent, clothing or furniture accounts, amenity bills, etc. We cannot get things on credit or run up accounts, enjoy say electricity and not praying for what we used.
(h) It includes not paying the staff proper wages. The Bible says the worker is worth his or her wages. This would include domestic workers and gardeners. If we expect increases and bonuses, ought we not to give these to them too?
6) Although a few Commandments are interlinked, this Commandment in particular requires we trust God for our day to day existence. If we are God’s Blood bought possession, we belong to Him. If He cares for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, will He not also care for us? If there is something many believers have learnt over the years of walking with Jesus it is this … “I might not be able to see Him. I might not understand the way He works. I might not deserve His help … but He always meets my needs at the right time and in the right proportion. My duty is to walk in faith and obedience.”
Dear Lord God, You are the Great Provider, meeting all my needs according to Your Fatherly goodness. Thank You so very much. Amen.