Read Deuteronomy 5:19
19 “You shall not steal. (NIV)
Most of us will not embark on a career of bank robbery, just as most of us will avoid being investigated for large-scale fraud. Most of us are not thieves like that. And yet this commandment can still pack a punch.
There can be minor or subtle stealing. We cheat on our taxes; we pilfer from our workplace; we engage in dishonest trading; we don’t pay our legitimate debts. All these involve taking something that doesn’t rightfully belong to us. And we may do it to show how clever we are. Or out of greed so we benefit from it. Or out of revenge, getting back at someone we don’t like.
There is also large-scale theft when wealthy countries exploit poorer countries for their own advantage. A breach of the biblical commands to care for the poor and share resources for the good of all. It is sobering to think that we have our relatively comfortable lifestyle as a result of this sort of global stealing.
Stealing betrays trust. It corrodes honest relationships. It shows a lack of contentment and a failure to be generous to others in need. Those who steal are looking after ‘number one’ at the expense of everyone else. Little wonder it is part of those ancient laws.
To be greedy and selfish is to lay ourselves open to stealing, albeit perhaps on a smaller or more subtle scale. Thieves and robbers don’t just wear balaclavas in back alleys. They can wear Sunday smiles in Sunday church.