As I’ve reflected further on this command over the last week, I’ve been struck by the amount of times when my wants, my opinions, my will being done leads to the wants, opinions and desires of others being neglected or ignored. I wonder, might the spirit of the command, not to take for ourselves that which belongs to someone else, not apply to these things as well?
In the context of marriage, our topic last week; when husbands don’t love their wives in Christ-like devotion, are they stealing from them something which is rightfully theirs? When wives don’t respect their husbands and seek to dominate them, are they taking away their dignity and place of leadership? I think so.
As Ephesians 5 goes on, it speaks of parents and children, of employers and employees, and perhaps the same applies there. When parents exasperate their children, they are stealing from them, as are children when they refuse to obey their parents. When workers don’t give their best, and don’t respect their bosses – that’s stealing. And when bosses don’t provide for their workers or treat them with respect, that’s not just bad management, that’s exploitation and theft.
And what about in our friendships or conversations with neighbours? Are we quick to listen, giving others the gift of time to speak? Or do we dominate those times and only want to talk about ourselves? Selfishness, self-centredness, being only concerned about your own opinions is stealing, and it’s no way to build friendships.
And what about our political leaders? The Bible tells us to respect those in authority over us and obey them. Do we do that? Or have we joined the whingeing majority who only have words of criticism for our government?
If theft is taking something that doesn’t rightfully belong to us, then shouldn’t that also include dodging fares, claiming benefits that aren’t ours, or not paying our taxes. Perhaps you can think of other examples. Do let me know. But let us all ask God to search our hearts that we might recognise our sins, confess them to him, and know the cleansing and forgiveness only he can give through Jesus our saviour.