This article is our eighth in our series on the Ten Commandments and has been abbreviated for posting. Be sure to read and study all the scriptures quoted.
King David, a man who loved God deeply, wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul …” (Psalms 19:7). The word convert here carries the colorful meaning of turning back to an original starting point. This word holds firm the idea of turning away from a life of sin back to living the way God lives. Of course, that is what the Ten Commandments are all about. God has given us these incredible, perfect laws so we can turn our lives around.
To this point in our series, we have learned that with the giving of the first four commandments, God places the greatest importance on our relationship with Him. In the next three commandments, God teaches how to protect the next most important relationships: parent and child, husband and wife, our neighbor—members of the larger human race. Even more, we must not only put a high value on our relationships, we must protect the health and safety of every human life!
Obedience to God’s laws is the only true way that leads to peace, happiness and a wonderfully abundant life.
In the Eighth Commandment, God protects the right of all human beings to own property. From the highest part of Mount Sinai, God thundered out to Israel, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15). Few stop to even consider this commandment in our 21st-century world. Yet, every nation on Earth is sick with an epidemic of theft.
According to God’s Word and His Law, every human being has the right to own property. The Apostle John clearly communicated God’s desires for our personal prosperity and well-being. He wrote, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2). God has no desire for any human being to live in poverty and squalor. In fact, God desires us to have the best things in this life, as long as we do not put any of them before Him (Matthew 6:33). This is wonderful knowledge. The command also teaches that every human being has the duty to protect the property of other people. How? By not stealing what another owns.
This commandment shows that there are generally two ways you can come into possession of anything. The first is by receiving a gift from another person, which includes God. The second is by honest labor—earning something as a just return. Paul taught this easy-to-understand Bible principle. He wrote to the Ephesians, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28).
Paul warned the young evangelist Timothy, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10). Paul is speaking about avarice—the greed for gain. This kind of mind-set attracts evils like prostitution, drug-trafficking and numerous other organized illicit activities. Where is the true happiness in these kinds of lifestyles? There is none—only sorrow upon sorrow.
Stealing from other people is not the only principle involved in the Eighth Commandment. Many folks fail to see God as property owner. The Prophet Haggai records God’s own words: “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:8). The whole world belongs to God. Are you robbing God? Do not be too sure you’re not.
In Malachi 3, addressing ancient Israel (not Christians), God speaks out: “Will a man rob God? Yet, ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).
God owns the universe and Earth. God placed within the Earth matter, materials and energies—the very means to produce wealth. God is sharing His goods with all men. In essence, He gives men the power to get wealth. And He expects us to return something to Him.
In the New Testament, addressing modern day Christians, Paul shows that the ministry that is truly doing God’s work and teaching His Truth has the right to receive financial and material offerings on behalf of God (Gal 6:6, 1 Tim 5:17). And just as in Malachi 3, God promises to bless those who give into His storehouses (His Servants). God promises to bless those who bless his kingdom servants (Matthew 10:41, Mark 9:41, 2 Corinthians 9:7). God always keeps His Word. He never breaks a promise. God blesses those who obey Him—even in financial ways. Although the material blessing may not be immediate, God does expect us to Obey, Trust and exercise Faith in Him. God will do His part.
Father God says, “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:11-12). These promises are certain. Even though many are suffering curses in their economy for violating God’s Eternal Laws—God still blesses those who Trust, Obey and Keep His Commandments.
Are you up to the challenge?