You shall not steal. – Exodus 20:15
All of the commandments relate back to the first. Having no other gods besides the Lord is an expectation for our identity. (for fuller discussion, see Identity and the First Commandment)
Idolatry is seeking wholeness in something other than God; building an identity on the foundation of a standard of the world.
Wealth is an idol. Possessing and consuming things is an idolatry. It is something we look to in order to define our self.
If shame is a fear of having no value, then getting something new can quickly cover that shame up. Temporarily. Until something newer or better comes along.
Driven by comparison, we can know how we measure up (or don’t) by what we have or by how much we have. That’s the definition of ‘the good life’.
And when we don’t have what we want, or what others have, or we’re longing for that ‘one more’ item to make the pain and emptiness go away, we steal.
Taking what is not ours to even out the comparison. “I deserve this more” or “they have enough” can be ways to judge the fairness of stealing. Our false self becomes our value lens.
Taking what is not ours because we cannot get what is needed to cover or deaden our shame any other way. Stealing is how an idol enslaves.
In Luke 12, just before telling the parable of a foolish man who founded his life and security on gathering MORE, Jesus said “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
We may seek life in wealth, we may attempt to define our value and sense of self by what we have, but it is fake.
Having more cannot be sustained indefinitely, and even if it could, when one dies all the stuff stays in this world. How will you define your self then?
Contentment comes from an identity rooted in Christ. Knowing that what I have or what I don’t have does not affect my worthiness as an image bearer of God. Everything is God’s to give, and everything is God’s to take away.
As an aside, some may ask, “what about if I need to steal so my family can survive?” That would seem like an exception.
But, the commandment says…no stealing. No qualifiers and no exceptions.
Yet, this is not God’s heartlessness. He placed his church in the world. Out of our identity in Christ, we are not to be comfortable with what we have, but to seek out opportunities for generosity.
Meeting needs out of what we have. No one in a community should be hungry or naked if there is a community of Christians within it. That is how the body reflects Christ’s glory.
Loving on another and loving our neighbor.
Because our identity is in Christ, not wealth.
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