Exodus 20:15 Thou shalt not steal.
I recently discussed here another of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not kill.” When any of the Ten Commandments are studied carefully by means of cross reference Bible study, much new light is shed upon just what is involved in keeping each one. Much is revealed on how any person may violate a given commandment without being aware of doing so. So, much is involved in not violating the Eighth Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15) that is not immediately apparent.
I have placed a new note at Exodus 20:15 which discusses the implications of the Eighth Commandment in my new work, The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury, my vast expansion of my original Bible study reference work, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Here is the note and associated cross references for Ex 20:15,
Thou shalt not steal. Under this commandment A. C. Price observes “In one sense this Commandment would cover also breaches of all the other Commandments, for every violation of duty to God or man is really robbing them of what is their due, but the reference here is clearly to what we know as theft, i.e. the wrongful acquisition of the property of some other person.
It is not however always recognized how much even in this narrower sense it involves. We are apt…to neglect…the perversion of character and moral blindness from which it springs, for thefts are included by Christ among the evil things which ’proceed from the heart’ (Mar 7:21-22).”
“We forget also that law is only an imperfect embodiment of morality, and tend to regard all that is not punishable by law as morally justifiable. For the Christian at any rate the Commandment must be interpreted by the Law of Love (Mat 7:12), and the gist of it seems to be that he should himself be thoroughly honest in heart, that honesty should characterize all his dealings with others, and that to enrich himself by taking advantage of the weakness or necessities or ignorance of others is a sin in the sight of God.”
“…it is hard to see how the teaching of Christ can be made to square with such things as the confiscations that have been the scandal of most revolutions, …the ’bearing’ and ’bulling’ on the Stock Exchange, …the extortion of enormous rents when there is dearth of accommodation; nor how any nation is entitled to be called Christian in which inferior goods are foisted on poor or ignorant purchasers and caveat emptor is regarded as a legitimate basis for business transactions, or employees are ’sweated’ by their employers, or workmen cannot be trusted to do their best unless under the eye of a master.
As to the last point it may be noticed how stress is constantly laid in the Bible on diligence, both in religious matters (+*Exo 15:26), and also generally (+*Pro 10:4); and as to idleness (+*Pro 18:9), to which we may add the parables of the Talents (Mat 25:14, etc.) and the Pounds (Luk 19:12, etc.), and the references to the continual work of God and Christ (Joh 5:17; Joh 9:4) and to Paul’s labor both religious and manual (+*Act 18:3)” (Biblical Studies, pp. 147, 148). Gen 44:8, Exo 21:16; *Exo 22:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; *Exo 22:7-13, Lev 6:1-7; +*Lev 19:11; Lev 19:13; Lev 19:35, 36, 37; Lev 25:17, *Deut 5:19; Deut 19:14; Deut 23:24-25; Deut 24:7; Deut 25:13, 14, 15, 16; Deut 27:17, *Jos 7:24; Jos 7:25, Job 20:19, 20, 21, 22; Job 24:2, Psa 37:21; Psa 50:18; *Psa 62:10, Pro 1:13, 14, 15; *Pro 3:27; Pro 6:30, 31; Pro 11:1; Pro 16:11; Pro 20:10; Pro 20:23; *Pro 22:22; Pro 22:28; Pro 23:10; *Pro 28:24; *Pro 29:24; *Pro 30:8; Pro 30:9, Isa 1:23; Isa 61:8, Jer 5:26, 27, 28, 29; Jer 7:8, 9, 10, 11; Jer 22:13, *Eze 3:15; Eze 45:10, Hos 4:2; Hos 12:7, Am 3:10; Am 5:11, 12; Am 8:4, 5, 6, Mic 6:10, 11; Mic 7:3, +*Zec 5:3; Zec 5:4, Mal 3:5; Mal 3:8, Mat 15:19; >Mat 19:18; Mat 21:13; Mat 22:21; Mat 23:14; Mat 23:25, Mar 7:22; >Mar 10:19; Mar 11:17; Mar 12:17; *Mar 12:40, Luk 3:13, 14; Luk 18:11; >Luk 18:20; +*Luk 19:8; Luk 19:46; Luk 20:25; *Luk 20:47, Joh 12:6, Rom 2:21; Rom 13:7; **>Rom 13:9, 1Co 5:11; **1Co 6:10, **Eph 4:28, +*Col 4:1, 1Th 4:6, 1Ti 1:10, *Tit 2:10, +*Jas 5:4, 1Pe 4:15, +*Rev 9:21.
steal. Young notes “The primary idea of the original word is, to do a thing secretly, as in Gen 31:27; Gen 40:15; 2Sa 15:6; 2Sa 19:3; 2Sa 19:41; Job 4:12; Job 21:18; Job 27:20,” *S# H1589: Gen 30:33; Gen 31:19, 20; Gen 31:26, 27; Gen 31:30; Gen 31:32; Gen 31:39; Gen 40:15; Gen 44:8, Exo 20:15; Exo 21:16; Exo 22:1; Exo 22:7; Exo 22:12, Lev 19:11, Deut 5:19, Jos 7:11, 2Sa 15:6; 2Sa 19:3; 2Sa 19:3; 2Sa 19:41; 2Sa 21:12, 2Ki 11:2, 2Ch 22:11, Job 4:12 (secretly brought; mg, by stealth). Job 21:18 (carried away; mg, stealeth away). Job 27:20, Pro 6:30; Pro 9:17; +Pro 30:9 (T1712). Jer 7:9, Hos 4:2, Ob 1:5, *Zec 5:3, **Rom 13:9, +*Rev 9:21.
There are other pertinent passages in the Bible that pertain to this theme if we consider them carefully:
Col_3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
If we do everything in the light of bringing honor to the Lord Jesus Christ, we will maintain a good testimony before others, as in the workplace or at school.
If we are students at school, we will attend our classes faithfully. We will complete our assignments when due. We will not be distracted in class by cell phones and messaging and whatever else goes on. When I last taught, I don’t think students yet had cell phones, but they did have another device that others could alert them to call them. Students were not supposed to have these things in school. But some students said they needed them in case a parent needed to alert them to an emergency.
In this day, we who claim the name of Christ need to take extreme care that we do not allow cell phones to distract us from our work. We should alert others who might wish to call us not to do so during working hours because any distraction from our work causes us to lose the train of thought necessary to accomplish that work. Even as a teacher, I found that school announcements over the public address system during class were very disruptive to both the teaching and learning process. This relates to the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” because permitting or creating distraction takes away from the concentration needed to properly accomplish the task before us, and slows us down or prevents us from doing as well as we should on the task.
We need to learn how to carefully manage time, both at work and at home. “Lost time is never found again” is one of the quotations I shared with my students at the start of my teaching career. I think my quotations made an impact on at least some of my students. Once when I was leaving school at the end of the day near the close of my career, a former student of mine bringing his daughter to take part in a sporting event recognized me and thanked me for all those good quotations I had shared three decades before, and he even quoted some of them that he had learned by heart, including one by Benjamin Franklin about “there will be sleeping enough in the grave,” if I recall correctly.
Here is a quotation which, though addressed especially to pastors, is really in principle applicable to everyone:
- “One of the gravest perils which besets the ministry is a restless scattering of energies over an amazing multiplicity of interests which leaves no margin of time and of strength for receptive and absorbing communion with God.” Andrew Bonar
From this quotation we ought to learn that:
- We ought to limit our commitments to a fairly narrow range. I found that it is best to do what only I can do, and not take on tasks that others can do. This means I don’t take on tasks that others are better equipped to do than I am.
We would make more progress and improve our skills if we eliminate as many distractions as possible. This means I focus upon what I am already good at, or equipped to do, and I eliminate activities that steal time away from my efforts to further develop my best skills. This means, for me, that I do not spend time watching television. I do not pay attention to sports. I spend time reading books from which I can learn more about what I need to know. I don’t bother involving myself with what others might regard as innocent entertainment. That is how I have managed to produce three major Bible reference works, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible, and most recently The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury. I limit my time on “Social Media,” but I do take enough time to stay in contact with some of my former students and family friends.
“Of what use is it to have many irons in the fire if the fire is going out?” Eric Roberts
- “A man is rich in proportion to the things he can afford to let alone.” Henry David Thoreau
- “The problem is…how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life…. There is no easy answer, no complete answer…one answer, and perhaps a first step, is simplification of life, in cutting out some of the distractions.” Ann Lindberg, Gift from the Sea
- “The only sure weapon against bad ideas is BETTER IDEAS.” A. Whitney Griswold
- “There is no adequate defense, except stupidity, against the impact of a new idea.”
- “A man’s mind, stretched by a new idea, can never go back to its original dimension.”
I trust that some of the ideas I have shared in this post are new to you, and that your mind, now stretched by a new idea, will never go back to its original dimension.