The Eighth Commandment: ‘You shall not steal’

(Exodus 20:15)

Stories of thieves and their misdemeanors have long fascinated us; from the infamous Dick Turpin on Hounslow Heath to rascally Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest. We all love a good heist film. Many of us will remember the original film, ‘The Italian Job’, with Michael Caine racing around in the little mini. Think about the film trilogy, Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen. Whether it is stealing from casinos or gangsters, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon are able to make it seem so humorous, suave and cool. It makes you want to pack in your mundane day job and be a part of their little crew, to go around robbing casinos as well!

There is no harm done after all, they are only stealing from the rich, to give it to… not quite the poor… to themselves… but it does mean they can enjoy such dream lives. They are such lovely people after all, that they deserve it; especially after all the incredible ingenuity they have shown in cracking high-tech safes and escaping from half-crazed insurance brokers. If anyone should be happy, they are certainly much better candidates than their victims; the mob boss casino owner or the faceless insurance company.

These films play tricks with our minds, largely because of their actors who are so suave that they could pretty much make anything look cool, if they put their minds to it.
Why do we steal? There are many reasons at one level: desperate need, as a lazy short cut to a good life or from a burning desire for more.

Stealing, whether of money, time, or property, has no place in the life of the follower of Jesus. With Jesus, we don’t need to or want to take inappropriately from others, simply because we already have all that we need. Jesus has told us not to worry about what shall we eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear? ‘For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.’ Matthew 6:32

We no longer need to be slaves to greed or feel that we are all alone and have to do anything to survive. We are part of His church, sharing with each other, children of the same Father, who loves us and who knows all our needs. Jesus has changed us and given us new life. Living with Him our Saviour and like Him, doesn’t just mean not taking from others anymore. Not many of us are probably given to shop lifting anyway. Rather, Jesus has set us free to give of all that we have: time, money, property, sharing with our church family here at St. Andrew’s and with the church around the world.

We know that it really is better to give than to receive. In a world of desperate need and of desperate greed, fed by Hollywood mirages, even more than Oceans Fourteen, this is what a watching world most needs to see.

Marcus Nelson