You Shall Not Steal


In our trek through the Second Table of the Law we arrive at the Seventh Commandment this week, “You shall not steal.” And Luther’s explanation goes, “We are to fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or property, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his property and means of making a living.”

This commandment assumes there is such a thing as personal property! Of course we spiritually understand that everything belongs to God, but He obviously entrusts his resources and goods to us as stewards. And we are not to take what has been entrusted to someone else.

Now there are a lot of ways we can come by someone else’s property short of sticking a gun in their face and ordering them to give us all their money. Yes indeed, there are far more subtle ways. They include such things as selling shoddy merchandise, not putting in a full day’s labor for a full day’s wage, underpaying, overcharging, and well, the list goes on.

Furthermore, some things may be legal, but that does not mean they are moral or ethical!

Moreover, there is such a thing as intellectual and creative property. This would include cheating on a test by taking someone else’s answers, plagiarism, and pirating a cd or dvd.

The Lord God knows we need to have property and money to physically survive in this age. And for whatever reason, these assets are not divided up equally. There is no question that the believer is to share from his abundance with his neighbor suffering from scarcity. But a Robin Hood mentality does not pass muster with the Seventh Commandment! We are not to take our neighbor’s property!

The positive side to this command is that we are to help our neighbor improve and protect his property and means of making a living.

Since You Asked…

Why do we celebrate Holy Communion nearly every Sunday?

The celebration of the meal we call Holy Communion has consistently been the chief act of Christian worship since the age of the Apostles. The Lutheran Reformation did not break with this tradition of 1,500 years. In fact the Augsburg Confession (our principal statement of faith) declares Holy Communion to be the chief act of worship for Lutherans on Sundays and festivals (Art. 26).  (from “Manual on the Liturgy” companion to the LBW, from Augsburg Pub.)

You might think of Holy Communion as spiritual bread and drink for our journey (pilgrimage), for our Lord’s Body and Blood is true nutrition indeed!