Key Theme: God forbids theft of all kinds, but also commands us here to protect the property of others.
Read Exodus 20:15
- Underline: You shall not steal.
- Write: “7th Commandment” or “7C”
What is forbidden in the 7th Commandment?
Read Joshua 7:11, 20-26
- Underline: I have sinned against the Lord … I coveted them and took them.
- Write: 7C: Stealing is sin.
Read 2 Kings 5:20-27
- Underline: my master has spared this Naaman … I will run after him and get something from him.
- Write: 7C: Dishonest gain is sin.
Read James 5:4
- Underline: the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you
- Write: 7C: Pay for media.
God commands His people not to steal from others. This includes the physical theft of items via shoplifting, borrowing things and intentionally not returning them because you want them, or other methods for obtaining physical things illegally. However, we also learn that deceiving others to get some extra money is considered stealing. It might be telling someone they owe you $5 for the item you purchased for them, even though it only cost $2. Another form of dishonest gain is cheating on a test or schoolwork by copying someone else’s answers. You benefit from their work and “gain” in a dishonest way.
In addition to physical goods and dishonest gain, we also see that failing to pay for something is the same as stealing. Most often, we see this in the area of illegally downloading music and video on the internet. We try to rationalize our theft by saying we wouldn’t have purchased it anyway, or that a company charges too much for something, so I just get it for free on the internet. Regardless, James 5:4 tells us that failure to pay someone for their work, as is the case here, is considered theft.
What is commanded in the 7th Commandment?
Read Philippians 2:4
- Underline: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
- Write: 7C: Help others.
Read 1 John 3:17-18
- Underline: let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
- Write: 7C: Care for others.
We are not simply commanded to not steal from others, but we are also charged with protecting the interests and well-being of others. That might include looking out for others’ property at school or in our neighborhood. It might include providing for the needs of someone who is hurting. We keep this Commandment by helping and caring for others as God has cared for us.