You Shall not Steal

From Issue: Discovery 8/1/2008

Ricky had always wanted a shiny gold watch, and there, sitting on his classmate’s desk, was a brand new one. Ricky was supposed to be outside with the rest of his class, but he was leaving early today with his mom, so he was left alone for a few minutes. No one would ever know if he took the watch. He looked out into the hall, and then he looked at the pocket on the outside of his backpack. The watch would easily fit inside the pocket without anyone noticing it. What should he do? He knew that he might never get a watch like this one, and he probably would never have a better chance to take it.

As Ricky walked over to look more closely at the watch he recalled a lesson his Sunday morning Bible class had recently discussed. They were talking about Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus. Ricky remembered how he had learned that Judas was also a thief. His job was to hold the money box for all of the disciples, and yet without their knowledge he had been taking money from it. On one occasion, when Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, poured expensive oil on Jesus’ feet, Judas asked: “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii[about a year’s salary] and given to the poor?” (John 12:6). The Bible explains that Judas made this statement, “not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:5-6). Judas did not care about the poor, or about what Mary was doing; instead, he was jealous, greedy, and wanted the money. Judas was a thief who eventually “sold out” the Son of God for money! Once Ricky thought about how stealing would liken him to Judas, rather than to Christ, he decided to leave the watch where it was.

The Bible teaches that stealing is wrong. It was wrong under the old Law of Moses, and it is wrong under the new Law of Christ. The eighth commandment given to Moses and the Israelites was simply, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). When Jesus was on Earth, He put thievery in the same category as other wicked things like murder, adultery, and blasphemy (Matthew 15:19). The apostle Paul talked about thievery when he wrote to the church at Ephesus, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (4:28). Instead of stealing what others have, God wants us to work hard, earn money honestly, and then give to those who are in need.


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