Daily Lectionary: Numbers 16:23-40; Luke 19:29-48
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 property and income. (Small Catechism: Seventh Commandment)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I think it’s easy to dismiss this commandment. I’ve never robbed a bank or a house. I’ve never stolen anything…at least, I don’t remember stealing anything. I probably stole a pen or something once, but that’s not a big deal, right? So, let’s check this commandment off the list and move on.
Not so fast. You didn’t steal from your neighbor, but have you done everything you could to improve or protect his possessions and income? Do you want your neighbor to do better financially? Do you try to increase the amount of money your neighbor has or are you only concerned about raising your own income?
Do you give a portion of your money to the Church, knowing that it serves your pastor and brings the Gospel to your neighbor? Do you pay all of your taxes or do you steal from your government?
Luther points out that we steal from our employer whenever we damage company property or whenever we are lazy or sloppy on the job. We all are guilty of that, aren’t we?
Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to move past this commandment. Money is a tricky thing. It is a blessing from God and a great tool to serve others, but it can also become a false god. We think money will make us more secure and happy, and so we hoard it all for ourselves, even if it is at the expense of others.
Thankfully, our Lord is only concerned about the wellbeing of His creatures. As God, Jesus owns everything by right, but He laid everything aside for us. He became a homeless peasant and a slave. Eventually, He even gave up His very life, so that He could give us gifts—forgiveness, eternal life, the Holy Spirit, a beautiful new creation, a new family called the Church—all of them absolutely free. 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! (These Are the Holy Ten Commands, LSB 581:8)