Reflections: Thursday of the Fifth Week of Epiphany

February 8, 2024 

Today’s Reading: Luther’s Small Catechism, 7th Commandment

Daily Lectionary: Job 5:1-27; John 2:13-25

As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.

Commandment 7: 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.

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God wants your property, your possessions, your wealth protected. He wants the same for your neighbor. 

To uphold and protect our neighbor’s possessions, wealth, and income is nothing other than to recognize that all things come as gifts from God. The fertile land able to bring forth crops, property on which to build a home or a store or a factory, the ability to build and sustain a business, the talent to produce things needed by neighbors and society—all is given by God the Creator. He gives in the measure He chooses.

To steal from our neighbor, then, whether by outright theft or by clever design and deceit, is not just to harm our neighbor, but is to deny God as the giver of gifts. And even if our neighbor acted dishonestly in his gathering of his own wealth—perhaps by overcharging or by fraud or dishonest contract—our temptation to even-the-score is an attack on God. God is the judge. He will deal with the deceitfully gained wealth according to His own ways, which in this temporal life include His earthly instruments of police officers, judges, etc. (James 4:12).

Now we can see why a breaking of the Seventh Commandment is a breaking of the First Commandment. To steal from our neighbor is to act as judge (“that possession of my neighbor’s should be mine!”), and to act as judge is to set ourselves as our own god. On the other hand, to rejoice in our neighbor’s property and wealth, to help him improve and protect his possessions and income is to recognize God as the giver of gifts; it is to “fear, love, and trust in God above all things” (1st Commandment in your Catechism).

By these gifts of possessions and property, of wealth and income, God is setting us to serve our neighbor here on Earth. As we pray that our neighbor hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be given the gift of repentance and faith, we also pray that our neighbor be sustained and upheld in earthly life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 

How clear is our vocation Lord,  When once we heed Your call:

To live according to Your Word  And daily learn, refreshed, restored,

That You are Lord of all  And will not let us fall.

In what you give us, Lord, to do, Together or alone,

In old routines or ventures new, May we not cease to look to You,

The cross You hung upon—All You endeavored done. Amen. (LSB 853:1,4)

-Pastor Warren Graff is retired from Grace Lutheran Church, Albuquerque.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Jonathan Lackey is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Vine Grove, Ky.

The Lutheran Reader’s Bible helps you develop a habit of devotion and Bible reading so you can slowly but intentionally understand and grow in God’s Word. Through introductions to the sixty-six books of the Bible, guided reading plans, and more, this Bible builds your confidence to study Scripture on your own.