Do not steal seems like a straightforward commandment. It is a clear line between right and wrong. Right? I’ve taken a new view of the commandments that has meant more than my childhood understanding.
I have a distinct memory of being early elementary age and at the drug store with my mom. On the way to the checkout, there was all this candy. I eyed the Sweetarts. I thought about putting one in my pocket. Would I get caught? Ultimately, my fear of getting caught outweighed my desire for sugar.
13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20: 13-17 NIV).
What are other ways that I steal or even murder? Do not steal someone’s dignity. Do not steal someone’s self-confidence, value, purpose. My words, my actions, my inaction can steal from others in ways I never intended.
These commandments are guides on how to be in relationship with others. They are more than limited actions. They teach compassion and a right heart as Jesus reminds us.
21-22 “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. (Matthew 5:21-22 MSG).
I hadn’t thought about my words stealing something from others. I knew they could hurt. I hadn’t thought about them taking something from another, but they can. I have had the words and actions take things from me I can’t get back. I need to pay more attention to words. Are they building up or tearing down?
How are you at following the commandment do not steal? Do you pay attention to your words? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.