Love Letter #8 says, “Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15.) Put another way, “Don’t take what’s not yours.”
When our Creator gave this command, the children of Israel had recently been liberated from Egyptian captivity. Because they didn’t have much property, one would almost assume that there was no need for this kind of love letter from God. Yet, while they didn’t have a lot of property, they had some property. So even with a few things, there was still this coaxing temptation on the part of one neighbor to take from another neighbor, that which did not belong to him/her.
In our 21st century world, life is much different than what it was during those post-Exodus times. Despite this change in epochal eras, however, there still remains this internal, mortal impulse that functions under the philosophy, “we look, we see, and we must have.” This thinking was befittingly illustrated in the biblical narrative of David and Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 11, 12.)
It was David who was peering off his balcony and saw Bathsheba. Wanting her for himself, David had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, put on the frontline of battle to be killed. Sadly, David’s thoughts became actions and Uriah was slain in combat.
The prophet Nathan approached David regarding his sinister scheme and said, “King, we’ve got a problem.”
David responds, “What do you mean?”
“King, there’s a rich man in your kingdom who has a large flock of sheep. The other day a stranger was coming through town and was hungry. This rich man prepared a meal, but didn’t take one of the sheep out of his livestock. Rather, he took a lamb from this poor man in the valley. He took the poor man’s lamb, cooked it, prepared it, served it, and they feasted on it. The rich man then went to bed and rested that night. What do you think we ought to do with him, King?”
“Kill him,” David said.
The prophet Nathan then said, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). You stole when you already had. Again, “we look, we see, and we must have.”
We don’t have to live or operate by this notion because we serve a God who “shall supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory,” (Philippians 4:19). So whether it’s a person, place, or thing, whether it’s large or small, whether it’s substantial or trivial, we have no need to take what’s not ours.
Not only do we have no need to take from another, but also we have no need to take from God. Malachi 3:8-10 is clear: “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. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
In our global community, inclusive of professed Christians, thievery from God is rampant, but Love Letter #8 is not exclusive to our relationship with humanity, but also applies to our relationship with divinity. God is very clear in His words, “Bring ye all the tithe to My house.” Therefore, regardless of the size of our earnings, 10% of our increase belongs to the Lord, and we’re admonished to bring it to Him.
Jesus said, “Lay not up treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. “There are only two places in the universe where we can place our treasures: God’s storehouse, or in Satan’s; and all that is not devoted to God’s service is counted on Satan’s side, and goes to strengthen his cause (Matthew 6:19-21).
Moreover, God’s money is the whole thing—100%–and is not limited to 10%. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” God just asks that we return to Him an obedient tithe (10%), and give a liberal love offering according to His blessings towards us (Psalm 24:1). Remember, everything we have is from God. When we steal from Him, just as soon as we’ve been blessed, our blessings can be taken away (Deuteronomy 16:17.)
Lastly, let us not “expect” something from God in return, but His blessings! Don’t give to God and then expect God to give you something back! Don’t give to God and then expect God to double your earnings! Don’t give to God and then expect God to triple your savings. God is not the stock market! God is not the lottery! God is not a pyramid plan! God is not multi-level marketing! God is God, Creator of the universe! Redeemer on Calvary! Savior of the world! And soon-coming King!
Give God what He has asked of you. Love Him the way He wants to be loved. Don’t take what’s not yours from others or God. “Thou shalt not steal!” That’s Love Letter #8.