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Taking What Doesn’t Belong to You

You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.
—Leviticus 19:11

How do we violate this commandment, this Eighth Commandment of “You shall not steal”?

The most obvious application first of all, is through direct theft; breaking and entering, stealing, taking by force what isn’t yours. How many of you have ever had your home or car burglarized? Many people are victims of crime. It makes you feel violated when somebody comes into your home and takes what doesn’t belong to them.

Some of us say, “This is one commandment I’m not guilty of breaking.” But remember, just as there is more than one way to commit adultery and more than one way to commit murder, there is also more than one way to be guilty of theft, taking what doesn’t belong to you.

I remember reading not long ago in the Wall Street Journal an article about companies that were discovering new ways to get new ideas. They would advertise a fictitious job opening, get people to come in and interview for that fictitious job, milk their ideas from their other companies, and then never call them back. The headline of the article was “It Used to Be Called Stealing”—taking ideas that don’t belong to you.

By the way, students, you violate the Eighth Commandment by cheating on exams, taking answers, or copying somebody else’s paper. High schools and colleges are finding over and over again students downloading papers from the Internet and passing them off as their own. We all borrow ideas from other people but if you borrow substantially—if you preach a sermon verbatim or if you quote long passages or if the substance of an idea comes from someplace else—give people credit for it.

Another way that people violate this command through direct theft is through work. Employees who take supplies from work, whether it is postage stamps or supplies or pens, that’s theft.

Here’s another way you may have not thought of: long-term borrowing from other people. Think about what’s around your house: books, CD-s, DVD-s, tools; you may have borrowed and you may have had every intention of returning those things but you never got around to it yet. And suddenly you feel like those things belong to you. All of those are ways that we violate this commandment through direct theft.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Grand Theft Auto,” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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