By Medford Caudill
 Goshen, Indiana
Exodus 20:15; “Thou shalt not steal.”
    We have said many times that the Ten Commandments apply to all men for all time. It has never been right in any nation, in any culture, at any time to steal. Because sometimes we can understand the sin, a man that is hungry stealing bread for instance, that does not mean we condone the sin.
    John Gill defines stealing, before giving a list of various kinds of theft as; “To take away another man's property by force or fraud, without the knowledge and against the will of the owner thereof.”
    In our day sometimes theft comes violently at the point of a gun. Sometimes without our knowledge,  as in the case of identity fraud. Sometimes the government steals from its citizens, either by out and out taking their land or property or by unjust taxes. Sometimes companies steal from their employees. Some of the Jewish Rabbis taught that this commandment applied only or mainly to the stealing of men for slavery. Some companies treat their employees as slaves, stealing from them their time, their dignity, and their proper pay.  Yes, I know, many employees steal from their employer wanting to get paid for shoddy work or no work at all. That street runs two ways.  Many different groups and people are guilty of stealing.
    Let's look at some things that as Christians we ought to consider as stealing.

   Adultery,  which is considered in verse 14 just before this commandment is always a theft.  Not only does the adulterer steal a husband from his wife or a wife from her husband but they are also stealing a father or a mother from their children. Surely adultery is a terrible sin and ought to classified as a crime.
    The stealing of a child's love from their parents is theft. Teachers will do this many times. Remember when you send your children away to school you are putting them under the authority and care of that teacher for that day. Most people are very strict in choosing a baby sitter but very lax in choosing a teacher who will be with their child every day.
    Sometimes, in our cities, a gang will steal a child's love from his parents. Sometimes a cult will steal that love. In reality, a cult is just a religious gang.
    Stealing the affection due to God is also theft. False religion can do that. There are people who are more loyal to their denomination, their old home church, or even a building than they are to God.
    I moved about a hundred miles away from where I lived to pastor a church one time. In preaching for the church a couple of times before they called me as pastor I noticed a nice elderly couple in the congregation. After I moved there they attended every service. I assumed that they were members but then I found out that they were in actuality members of the Assembly of God. It seems the church that I was pastoring had purchased the building they were meeting in from the Assembly of God a couple of years previously when the Assembly of God had built a new building for their services. This couple was in love with the old building so they continued to attend services there even after it was sold to the Baptists.
    Idolatry is stealing the love due to God. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I  the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:4,5). Notice how the jealousy of God is connected to idolatry in these verses.

   You can steal time in many ways.
    You can steal time from your employer. You are paid a certain wage to do a certain job. If you don't spend your time on the job you are stealing. Some use any and every excuse to steal time. Years ago I worked in a furniture factory. I ran a saw that required a feeder, a middle man and a catcher where the boards came out. One day after getting everything set up I had to go looking for my catcher. I found him at a sink in the bathroom  with a bar of lava soap washing his false teeth. He said; “You got to clean them sometime!”  That might have been true but he didn't have to clean his teeth on company time.
    You can also steal time from your family. ”But if any provide not for his own and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8). It is not enough to provide food and shelter, the Christian should provide his time also.
    I had a friend who was excited to meet a man who was some 80 years old whose father had been a famous preacher in the late 1800’s. When he asked this man about his father he simply said; “I don't really remember much about my father. He was always off preaching somewhere.” That is a sad commentary is it not? Many Baptist preachers have lost their children to the world because they were always, “off preaching somewhere”.
    You can also steal time from God. Every time you miss a church service you are stealing God's time. Every day you forget to pray, you are stealing God's time. Every day you neglect reading the Bible because you don't have the time is a day stolen from God. To desecrate the Sabbath Day is to steal time from God.

   We have mentioned how it is possible to steal the affection due to God and give it to someone or something else. We have also mentioned how you can steal God's  time. You can also steal God's money.
    “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?  In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:8,9). If you don't tithe you are robbing God.
    To tithe is to give 10% of your income to the Lord. No more or no less. I had a church member one time who told me he wished that he could tithe more. I explained to him that that was an impossibility. The tithe is ten percent. To give less than ten percent is not tithing. To give more than ten percent is to give a tithe and an offering. The tithe in and of itself is ten percent.
    God gives you everything that you have. Is it too much for Him to ask you to return to Him one tenth of your income and one seventh of your time?
    In thinking on these things we would simply leave you with the admonition of the apostle Paul; “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).

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