You shall not steal. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor's money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income. (The Seventh Commandment)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Let's face it: The Seventh Commandment calls us all thieves. Maybe we don't grab stuff off store shelves and hide it in our coats. But when we make unfair deals with others, “borrow” things without giving them back or taking what we have not paid for just because it's on the Internet, we're stealing. Whenever we have an opportunity to help someone else keep his or her stuff and we don't, we break the Seventh Commandment. We could go on and on with examples, but the bottom line is that you and I are thieves. The Seventh Commandment says so.
Good thing that Jesus hangs out with thieves! Literally! He was crucified between two thieves. As the prophet Isaiah puts it, “He was numbered with the transgressors, the sinners.” (Isaiah 53:12). When Jesus is crucified with a thief on each side, it is Good News for us! It teaches us that our Lord came to do exactly that: be where the sinners are, so that He would save them. On the Cross, Jesus is punished as if He were a thief. But by that death, He shows us that He came not to take from us, but to give us forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
In Baptism, we who are thieves are now called God's children. In Holy Absolution, we who had fallen under the “guilty verdict for our thievery, are declared “not guilty.” In the Holy Supper of Christ, our Savior takes up residence in us thieves, that we might be cleansed from our sins. Now, living in such grace and forgiveness, the Spirit works in us to turn us from being thieves into those who kindly and generously help our neighbors and give freely to support them in whatever they need.
The One who hung between two thieves now lives in you by His Word and Spirit. The Seventh Commandment may call you a thief. But by the forgiveness of sins in Jesus, God Himself calls you His own forgiven child. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
“You shall not steal or take away What others worked for night and day, But open wide a gen'rous hand And help the poor in the land.” Have mercy, Lord! (LSB 581:8)
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, email@example.com.