The commandments are not just a bunch of “do’s” and “don’ts”. Rather, I see them as God’s will for my life and for yours.
People today want to only believe that God is a God of love, that He would not judge anyone to Hell for being a good citizen. But I must disagree, for in order to really understand God’s love, you must first believe that He is going to judge you.
You see, God is a God of judgment because He is holy – He has to judge sin and mistakes. Where we might overlook sin (a lie) as just part of human nature, He cannot overlook it because sin cannot be in His presence.
Once Adam and Eve sinned, they had to be removed from the Garden of Eden and given the curse of death. Without sin, they could have lived forever. But with sin, their lives had to be terminated in time to eliminate what sin brings – a lifetime of destruction. We often find ourselves thinking how bad life is now in the short time of life allotted to us. But just think how chaotic and unruly it would be if people were allowed to live forever in their present state – it would literally be “Hell on Earth.”
And yet even with sin, we can truly see God’s love for His creation because He wants no one to suffer the consequences of His wrath. He basically says like an adult to a child, “I have to punish you for your misbehavior. But if you will say I’m sorry, I’ll let it go this time.” And it’s not like He leaves us guessing as to what we need to do to avoid His wrath. He says, “Say I’m sorry, and live within my will.”
And that will consists of 3 factors:
- Saying I’m sorry by accepting Jesus’ death for what should be mine,
- Totally focusing on Him (love Him), and
- Focusing on others (love my neighbors).
Well, todays’ will, todays’ commandment, deals with property. The commandment says, “You shall not steal.” – Exodus 20:15
In the story of the Prodigal Son, you have the elder son who didn’t leave and became upset that the father was throwing a party for his wasteful son who had returned. And the father said to him, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have (everything that is left) is yours.” In other words, “All is mine entrusted to you.”
So it’s important for us to understand that all property, everything we have, is not ours, but God’s. And He simply entrusts it to us.
Yet people always have the misconception that those who have more are within God’s will and He is giving more to them. This misconception then creates feelings of jealousy toward our neighbors and feelings of anger toward God. But God is not literally sitting in Heaven distributing His wealth. He is not in Heaven saying, “I’ll give you $5, Johnny I will give you $100, and Susie I will give you a $1,000,000.” But what He has done is create everything for our use.
So that $1,000,000 that Susie may have isn’t necessarily a reward for good behavior. She may have gotten it from using integrity and her God-given gifts to achieve it; she may have gotten it simply because she inherited it; or she may have gotten it from selfish practices and greed.
God, the Father, tells us that everything of His is also ours. He just wants us to use it wisely and to understand we are to remain in His will when trying to obtain more for ourselves. And just as a parent will reward a child for doing the right thing, so too does God.
But I warn you again, never look at what others have and equate their stuff with God’s blessing. If you judge the book by its cover, you may miss the moral in the story altogether. And that moral is that God calls us to not steal property from others because it is His property anyway.
When you take something from another person (whether as a poor soul stealing an apple from the fruit stand to a banker collecting astronomical interest/fees simply because a payment is a little late), you are really stealing from God. God would rather have you ask for the apple than take it, and He would want the owner of the apple to freely give it rather than creating a moral dilemma for you (I’m hungry and he won’t give me an apple, so I will just take one). God would rather have you speak to the banker that things are a little tight right now and ask for a little more time than ignore your financial responsibilities, and He would want the banker to have understanding and compassion on your circumstance rather than continually adding huge fees and interest onto your account that you will never be able to pay back.
Paul describes well what God desires in Romans 13: 8-10, and His will is clearly evident in this one statement: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
So if we will train our minds to begin thinking about how we would want to be treated in the circumstance we are presently in, then we would begin to place others interests above our own.
- If I would want someone to forgive my trespass, then I must be willing to forgive his.
- If I would want someone to deny her freedom so that I won’t be tempted to sin, then I must be willing to deny myself freedoms that may cause her to sin.
- If I would want someone to respect my property, then I must be willing to not take his.
Romans 13: 8 states, “Let no debt (financial) remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” In other words, “whoever loves others has stayed within the will of God.”
God’s will starts with our love for Him, which He first gave to you and me through the sacrifice of His Son. And we are indebted to Him without any possibility of paying it back, except that we EXCHANGE His love for us into a love for other people.
God says, “You shall not steal.” Well, you don’t have to worry about breaking that one (or any of the others as a matter of fact) if you simply learn to payback the love that has already been given to you. Are you?