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“You shall not steal.
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor 3 or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby— 4 if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found 5 or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. 6 And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent, for a guilt offering.7 And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.”
For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong;
He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
1 Corinthians 6:10-11
nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
[He] does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment,
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider:
1. Going back to the immediate context of the eighth Commandment, (God is setting apart Israel as His own special people and establishing them as a nation), why would it have been important, on a societal level, that Joe Israelite refrain from stealing? How would respecting their neighbor’s rights of private ownership of property have pointed the pagan nations surrounding Israel to the one true God? How can being a law abiding citizen today be a step toward witnessing to lost people?
2. According to verses 2,5-7 of Leviticus 6, whom has a thief sinned against? Are the consequences in this passage for a repentant or unrepentant thief? (4) How was a thief to repent to his victim? (5) How was a thief to repent to God? (6-7) Were the Old Testament consequences for stealing the same as the consequences for stealing where you live? How are they alike or different? Are the OT consequences more punitive or more focused on restitution? Why do you think this was?
3. What attribute of God does Isaiah 61:8a tell us that stealing is an affront to? In what ways is stealing unjust? The Bible tells us that God is jealous for His name and reputation and that we are ambassadors for, and representatives of, Him. Are we representing God well if we steal? How does it mar God’s reputation in the eyes of others if a Christian steals?
4. Study the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19. Tax collectors in Jesus’ time were despised for various reasons, one of which was that they would often lie to people about the actual amount owed, charge them much more, and pocket the difference, which certainly qualifies as thievery. What impact did the gospel have on Zacchaeus’ thievery? Was he repentant or unrepentant? Compare verse 8 with verse 5 of the Leviticus 6 passage. How does Zacchaeus’ amount of restitution compare with what was required of him by the law? How does Zacchaeus’ story demonstrate to us that truly being regenerated by Christ moves us from merely fulfilling the letter of the law to “going the extra mile” in obedience and servanthood?
5. What does 1 Corinthians 6:10 tell us is the penalty for unrepentant sinners such as thieves? What does verse 11 tell us about the forgiveness available for all repentant sinners? What do the words “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified” mean in this verse? What is the difference between the people mentioned in verse 10 and those referred to in verse 11?
6. Examine the Ezekiel and Ephesians passages. In light of these verses, how would you restate the eighth Commandment as a positive (a “Thou shalt ____.” statement rather than “Thou shalt not ____.”)? What actions does God give as examples of the opposite of stealing in these two verses? What are some ways Christians can live out the opposite of stealing?
Stealing isn’t just absconding with a tangible item that belongs to someone else. Have you ever cheated on your taxes? Stolen someone’s spouse through adultery? Stolen someone’s virginity? Pirated music or movies? Fudged your hours at work? Failed to tip appropriately or pay a worker as promised? Taken credit for someone else’s work?
Ask God to reveal to you any way you may have stolen something from someone, then follow the principles in the Leviticus and Luke passages. Repent to God and, if possible, to the person you stole from. Is there any way you can make generous restitution?
If you haven’t stolen anything, go back to the Ezekiel and Ephesians passages and think of one concrete way you can live out the opposite of stealing this week.