First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Stewardship Sunday ~ November 13, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“You Shall Not Steal!”
Exodus 20:15; Malachi 3:6-12
We are continuing our study in the 10 Commandments today with the Eighth Commandment. “You shall not steal,” said the Lord God in Exodus 20:15. The Ten Commandments have an amazing ability to instruct us in all areas of life. They cover ethical categories that span so much of our day-to-day existence. God knows that we need help understanding how to live as His people in the world. The Law, the Ten Commandments, is one expression of God’s amazing love and grace to His people.
Jesus said that all the law can be summed up in two commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. The two tables of the Law given in Sinai breaks down these two great commandments. The first four commands help us to love and worship God as we ought. Commands 5-10 help us to know how to love our neighbor as we ought.
As we look at the Eighth Commandment, “You shall not steal,” you will notice that it doesn’t say what you won’t steal; it doesn’t say when you won’t steal; it doesn’t say from whom you won’t steal; and it doesn’t say why. It is a generic command. And the reason that it doesn’t tell what, when, from whom, or why you shouldn’t steal is because it intends to enforce this: you won’t steal anything from anyone at any time for any reason. It’s a comprehensive command.
As is the case with all the other commandments, this is a multi-layer command. “לא תגנוב” ~ “Lo Tegnov” in Hebrew. “You shall not steal.” Why? What’s wrong with stealing? Let me offer two ways the 8th commandment can be applied to our lives today:
First: Stealing is a Sin against God’s Providence
Stealing is basically a sin against God’s providence. The teaching of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation indicates that because believers trust in the providence of God, and trust in God’s kind provision for us in all things, therefore we will refuse to take what is not ours from others. We won’t take persons who don’t belong to us; we won’t take money that doesn’t belong to us; we won’t take goods; we won’t take land that doesn’t belong to us; and we won’t take the fruit of the other’s labor. Stealing is a sign that we don’t trust that God will provide for us. Stealing is a sin against God’s providence.
The question that could be racing in your mind now is: how do we break this commandment today? What are some of the different ways that we all steal? A recent nation-wide survey showed that Americans are growing more “spiritual” and less moral. And this is never more evident than when it comes to the sin of stealing. Although everyone acknowledges that direct theft is wrong, many people do not see anything wrong with more subtle types of stealing.
Young people steal when they cheat in school. They steal the ideas and the hard work of others. Employers steal when they don’t pay their employees fair wages. Employees steal when they don’t work hard enough and when they waste their time while at work. Some people steal by refusing to work for a living. This is stealing from society. People steal through rip-offs and false measures. We steal when we spread gossip and rumors. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” When we slander a person, we are basically stealing their good reputation, which is something of great value. Stealing is a sin against God’s provision.
Second: Stewardship and the Eighth Commandment
The Scripture underscores another way we can relate this to our lives today. It has to do with us robbing God. Have you ever thought about the fact that you can rob God? Malachi chapter 3 speaks about robbing God by failing to offer to God our tithes and offerings. In Malachi 3:8, the Lord says, “Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings!” We owe God the first portion of our pay, and when we do not give God His due, we are robbing God.
But robbing God is far more than just financial. We can also rob God by stealing time from God. When we fail to spend time with God, we rob God. When we fail to keep the Sabbath holy and miss the fellowship of believers, we are stealing time from God. When we fail to use our time wisely, we rob God. We can also rob God of His due by living for self instead of for God. As believers, we are called to live a God-centered life, to live for the glory of our Redeemer. When we fail to live as good stewards, we rob God. Stewardship means that everything we have actually belongs to God. We have a borrowed life from God living on borrowed time from God. Therefore we are to make the most out of this life.
Friends, we all have broken the Eighth Commandment one way or another. How many times we doubted God’s providence and decided to take detours to reach our destination? How often do we rob God when we fail to surrender to Him our resources, our time, our energy and ourselves? We have certainly robbed God of His due. But the good news today is that God is not done with us. Regardless of our ultimate failure to walk in His ways and to obey His commands, God is giving us another chance today to get it right. He is calling us to bring the full tithe into the storehouse and experience His overflowing blessings. God wants to set us free from a self-centered life, from materialism, and from chasing after the wind as we center our lives upon the Lord and His will. “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” Jesus said in John 8:32. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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