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#8 The one about other people's stuff

#8 Do not Steal
[Exodus 20:15]


God owns everything

  • God, as maker and sustainer, owns all things. They belong to Him: Genesis 1.1; Exodus 19.5-6; Psalm 24.1-2
  • God has absolute ‘property’ rights over all things: Ephesians 1.11; Psalm 115.3; Daniel 4.34-35

So ... God can sustain, preserve, destroy, give, prosper or exclude

e.g. Satan from heaven, Adam and Eve from Eden, the Canaanites from Canaan, He can transfer you from body/soul on earth to dust in grave + spirit in His presence etc.

We own the stuff God gives us

God gives us property rights over the things He gives us

  • The 8th commandment establishes that!


1. Unless God has given me a rightful authority over you (e.g. I am a representative of the government asking for taxes or a policeman fining you for something) then I can't force you into any 'alternative use' of my property [take it from you or destroy it!].

2. Theft is always personal. The stuff belongs to someone - they might be really rich or it might be the shareholder of a big company or insurance firm or it might be fellow citizens in matters of the state.

And stealing is more than just blatant house breaking or mugging or car theft or planned scams.
Have you ever ...

  • taken sweets from a shopkeeper when their back was turned
  • borrowed something from someone or from a library or from school that you never got round to returning
  • cheated in a test, or in a game or on the sports field
  • taken credit for something that someone else did
  • taken a bus journey or train or tram journey and not paid
  • shared music illegally or copied DVD’s for friends or watched a film on youtube you haven’t bought
  • bought designer goods at extraordinary knock down prices … at a market .. from a friend
  • claimed some benefit or free gift that you didn’t qualify for

    cartoon euphemism
    boost; borrow without asking; filch; liberate; misappropriate; nick; pinch; pocket

  • Laziness is theft [Proverbs 18:9]
  • Honour belongs to our parents (and by extension to all the authorities God has given). So to take honour away from our parents is a kind of theft.
  • Other people are made in God’s image and have God’s image rights to life and honour. So to take their life unlawfully is theft. To treat them dishonourably is a kind of theft.
  • Head to toe faithfulness is due from a husband to his wife and from a wife to her husband. So adultery robs the wronged spouse of what is theirs.
  • We owe other people just treatment in how we speak. We rob them of their rights and reputation when we lie about them..
  • At the heart of coveting is the desire to have something that belongs to someone else … it is the seed of theft.

All sin is theft. It takes from God and from others.

Good news for thieves

Thieves can be forgiven by Jesus -  Luke 19:1-10

Thieves can repent and be productive & generous in a new life - Ephesians 4:28

As Christians we are very rich ... and so have every reason not to steal ever again - Ephesians 1:22-23