Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Ten Commandments: Stealing

“You shall not steal.” Before this was written on the stone tablets (twice), it was spoken from Mount Horeb.

“You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.” (Deuteronomy 4:11-13)

This happened over 4,000 years ago. Apparently people were stealing then.

I remember when I was in kindergarten, I was walking home from school with a friend when he announced to me, “I will teach you how to steal a cookie.”

There was a corner grocery store about two blocks from home. His mother had told him to bring home a pound of hamburger from the store. My friend told me, “When I order the hamburger, the owner goes to the back room to grind and wrap the it. While he is in the back room, we go over to the cookie bin, open the glass lid, take out two cookies, and put them in our pockets.”

It worked like a charm. The cookies had a marshmallow on top and were dipped in chocolate. I ate my cookie in the first block. Then I realized that Mom would see the chocolate on my face and make inquiries. I was not up to being questioned, so I spent the second block scrubbing my face to remove all traces of chocolate. She never asked.

There is more from God in the books of Leviticus and Numbers:

“The Lord said to Moses: “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor, or if they find lost property and lie about it, or if they swear falsely about any such sin that people may commit—when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering.” (Leviticus 6:1-5)

“Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer.’” (Numbers 5:6-8)

The solution for stealing is restitution plus 20%. If you cannot find the person or relative of that person, give it to the Lord. You do not get to keep the money or the items you stole. It is not your money.

Here is a case where 20% is not enough:

“Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.” (Exodus 22:1)

If the theft is an animal, the restitution is 400% or 500%.

Here is the New Testament’s word on it:

“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28)

Sixteen years later, after I was saved, I went back to that corner to make restitution for the cookies. The store was not there anymore, so I gave the money to the LORD.

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