On the face of it, this commandment seems very straightforward. Do not steal. Do not take things that belong to someone else. That’s theft, and theft, clearly, is wrong. Exodus chapter 22 says that stealing includes cattle rustling and burglary. Those are obvious enough. But that chapter also includes the damage done to crops and fields by someone else’s livestock, or by a fire spreading from one person’s property to another, or damage done to an animal loaned-out to someone else. God’s command not to steal also implies a positive command to take care of property that belongs to someone else.
So there is no such thing in the Bible as “finders keepers.” (So the couple in the USA who gave away and spent the $100,000 mistakenly put into their bank account were in the wrong!) And there is no allowance in the Scriptures for carelessness. (Damages, accidental or not, must be paid for.) Ownership of private property is something accepted by the scriptures, and what God has given to somebody else, we do not have the right to misuse or take for ourselves.
Ultimately, of course, the Scriptures tell us that all we have comes from God and belongs to God. Our homes, cars, possessions, gifts, talents, even our families, are loaned to us by our generous creator. That has a number of implications.
1: We should be thankful for all God has given us and not lust after more (see C10)
2: We should be generous and give and lend to others freely, and not seek to hoard what we have. After all, all we have has been given to us (See Luke 6)
3: We should not to steal from God, in praise, obedience, or in our financial giving.
God’s Old Testament people were commanded to give 10% of their income and crops, with free will offerings on top! The New Testament gives no percentage, so Christians are free to give to God what they feel is right. But we must not rob God of the thanks, praise and obedience he deserves. For our time, money and talents are both from him and for him. The antidote to stealing is generosity.