A burglar broke into a house one night. As the thief was stealing the valuables he heard a voice out of the darkness say, “Jesus is watching you.” The burglar was nerved but after a few moments of looking around and not seeing anything he continued his heist. Suddenly, just as before the voice spoke again saying, “Jesus is watching you.” The burglar became a bit more concerned and approached the location of the voice. It was a birdcage with a cover over it. After taking the cover off the parrot spoke again, “Jesus is watching you.” The burglar said with an angry voice, “Parrott, be quiet” with the parrot responding, “That’s not my name”. The burglar was intrigued and said, “What’s your name parrot?” with the response “Moses.” The thief then replied, “What kind of weird person would name a parrot Moses?” And then the parrot responded, “The same kind of weird person who would name their Rottweiler, Jesus.”
In case you did not know, stealing can get you into lots of trouble.
Today’s message will combine two commands: #8 “You shall not steal” and #10 “You shall not covet”. The reason for 2 is two-fold: 1) keep schedule moving but more importantly 2) both commands are similar where one addresses the action and the other the attitude.
As we have understood Jesus’ teaching of the commands we see He moves us beyond the external action to deeper inside our internal heart affections. So to look back: intention & desires can be idolatrous, malice = murder, lust = adultery. Here in Commands 8 & 10, God gives the last command to summarize and hint at his overall purpose of the commands going to the heart to reveal sin & need for a Savior! Coveting is something of the heart – something your neighbors cannot necessarily see. They can see you dishonoring parents, they can see you murdering someone, they can see you commit adultery, steal or lie but coveting is not just something we do but what we want to do. Typically, only God sees when we broke the 10th Commandment. But of course, no sin is silent and we are all sinners.
EXAMINE Love Others (Things) Exodus 20:15, 17
Today’s news is often filled with stories about theft: shoplifting, muggings, breaking & entering, armed robberies, auto-mobile theft, identity theft, blackmail, bribery, cheating and to all other sorts of sophisticated stealing.
Our society is built upon protection from stealing. Commercials promote security & protection (dead-bolt locks, security alarm systems for cars & homes, etc.). In malls & stores we hear sensory bells upon entering or exiting a room; the presence of security personnel or guards checking bag items; products are locked behind glass cabinets; audio cameras viewing behavior; monetary systems of not receiving large bills or no cash systems; and the protection of property goes on and on.
A people and society that does not honor the 8th & 10th Commandments cannot function for fear and paranoia would result into destruction. So, what does this teach us about God and life?
God values STEWARDSHIP (people, production and property).
The context of these commands are God instructing the Israelites how to worship and how to live within covenant community together. If the nation does not value each other, family and even personal property then it will not endure. To steal a possession is to steal from a possessor. God has commanded mankind to work and serve with their hands (Genesis 2:15). The value of work is grounded in the story of creation. Work and production are in our human DNA. We are to be cultivators of the earth and creators of the resources God has provided (Genesis 1:28-30). And therefore, persons have the right to the produce and reward of their God-given hands and talents.
And yet, because of the Fall – sin entering the human picture – there is also a command to protect life and possessions. In the 10th Commandment there is the mention of “neighbor” 3x to emphasize the protection of persons & possessions. In the next chapters are further instructions…
Exodus 22:1-9 1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.2 If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him,3 but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.4 If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.5 “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard.6 “If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution.7 “If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double.8 If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property.9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.”
God’s commands are against stealing & coveting. He punishes the thief. The OT Prophets wail against those that rob & oppress others by taking what does not belong to them.
Isaiah 10:2 “Woe to those who turn aside the needy from justice and rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, that they may make the fatherless their prey!”
Zechariah 7:9-13 “9 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. 12 They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts.13 “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts”
Ephesians 4:28 “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
Stuff is more than just stuff. My stuff is my stuff and your stuff is your stuff. The stuff that is cluttered in your closets and the stuff that is stationed in your shed IS YOURS. The stuff you do not want to part with and the stuff that you carry everywhere you go because it has become part of your identity IS YOURS. The stuff you borrow and haven’t returned IS SOMEONE ELSES. The point is that stuff matters! But, we must have a proper view of stuff – biblically this is called STEWARDSHIP.
Proverbs 15:16 “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.”
At SPBC we encourage biblical stewardship of time, talents and treasures. This means understanding God is the Owner of everything and you are the Steward everything that He allows you to have. There is nothing you have that did not come from God. Since it belongs to Him you must use your time, talents and treasures for His glory and not your own.
Stealing Time: How are you using your time? Do you waste time at work? Do you waste time at home, working instead of being home for relationally for your spouse & children? Are you taking advantage of opportunities God places in front of you for His glory?
Ephesians 5:15-18 “15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit”
Stealing Talents: Are you displaying or disguising your talents? Have you buried your God-given spirit, heart, abilities, passions and experiences or are you ready to unbind them for the good of others and glory of God?
1Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
Stealing Treasures: Do you realize God has blessed you to be a blessing to others? Are you hoarding or sharing – do you want God to hoard His blessings from you? Whom has God placed in your life that you have the ability & opportunity to bless?
Acts 20:35 Jesus says “It is more blessed to give than receive.”
– come to Nicaragua and see how true this is…
James 2:14-17 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
– Baby Bottle Blitz & Food Donations (SPAN/ODB)
1Timothy 5:17-19 “17As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
Treasures to God (offerings).
Malachi 3:7-10 “Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and offerings.9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
– Some of you tuned me out because I mentioned $$. Realize those are God’s words not mine.
In all, the 8th Commandment has to do with stealing and stewardship. The 10th Command is also our solution. We must answer the question – Is God enough?
ð Do we steal and covet because we think too lowly of God?
ð Do we doubt God’s power and provision so we pursue alternate God-substitutes (idols) to provide our own power and peace, significance and security?
µ The 21st century generation is tuned in and wired up; no generation has ever been wealthy with material possessions, advanced technologically and entertained with privileges & pleasures… and yet we are no more happy. In fact, we are more medicated, discontent, confused and stressed (anxious).
ð What would be your answer to the statement “IF ONLY I HAD…”
Your answer reveals your view of God. Jesus + Nothing = Everything!
µ The gospel cultivates contentment. The gospel shows us that in Christ I have all I need.
- BC of Jesus, I am accepted and do not have to amass my world with stuff to define my identity in labels to wear, zip codes to live in, car models to drive, or anything else. Jesus accepts me unconditionally not on my merit but from His mercy.
- BC of Jesus, I have all I need. His presence is satisfactory. His power is sufficient. His provision is suitable to all my needs.