Thou shalt not steal. – Exodus 20:15.
This is God’s Seventh Commandment. But not only pickpockets and burglars transgress this commandment. Whoever defrauds his neighbor in business, or craftily wrests trade and profit from him, or takes advantage of his neighbor’s ignorance or distress in order to get his money or goods, or borrows without returning what he has borrowed, or is in secret partnership with thieves, and so seeks to profit by the dishonesty of others, or enriches himself by means of usury, wringing his neighbor’s sweat and blood from him, or refuses to work, depending on others to support him in his laziness—such a one steals.
The world is full of thievery. Civil laws are not able to stop all thievery. And men refuse to be restrained by the Law of God. Trade and commerce often include much corruption. – We must be honest in the sight of God. One day God will judge. He keeps account of every deed of men. We should fear and love Him, that we do not take our neighbor’s money or goods, nor get them by false ware or dealing; on the contrary, we should love our neighbor as ourselves, and in word and deed help him to improve and protect his property and business.
By word and deed we should seek to keep him from suffering the loss of his possessions. We should lend him money, if by doing so we may help him, without seeking advantage for ourselves. We should take pity on the poor (Proverbs 19:17), when their poverty is not the result of slothfulness (II Thessalonians 3:10). –Alas! we stand condemned before this Seventh Commandment: our hand has taken where it should not have taken; it has not given where it should have given. And our heart! How full of thievery it is, how void of pity! “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts…thefts” (Matthew 15:19).
PRAYER – O my God, grant me Thy Holy Spirit, that I may learn to know my sin, seek forgiveness through Thy grace in Christ, amend my ways, keep myself unspotted from the world and its sinful ways, love my neighbor and deal with him faithfully and according to the standards of love, diligently attend to my calling, and look to Thee alone for Thy gracious blessing in body and soul; for Thou wilt bless those that follow Thee in faith and walk in Thy ways. Hear me for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.
Steal not; all usury abhor
Nor wring their life-blood from the poor,
But open wide thy loving hand
To all the poor in the land.
Have mercy, Lord!
Hymn 287, 8