Reading: Exodus 20,15
Thou Shall Not Steal!
Reflection: When I was 7 years old, I went through a brief phase of stealing – first it started with stealing chewing gum from a grocery store, and then it got more serious… combining forces with my friend at school and stealing other children’s stickers from their sticker-books during break time! While I might have experienced a degree of adrenaline in the stealing process, what made the thievery unforgettable was the horrible web of lies that came with covering my tracks…Maybe you have your own story of stealing something and the feelings that went with it. I am sure most people reading this would agree that stealing can rarely be justified.
But why did God need to clarify to the Israelites that it would be one of their most central commands? Before any of the 10 commandments are announced, God reminds the people who He is and where He brought the Israelites out of – Egypt, their ‘home’ of slavery. What’s fascinating about the verb ‘to steal’ in this command, is the way it has been interpreted by Jewish theologians: it refers to the theft of an actual person. The Israelites knew what it felt like to have their identities stolen – to be forced to work against their will. In this command, it is like God is saying to them “You know what it is like to live in an environment where all of your rights, your dignity, your will has been stolen from you. Make sure you never do this to anyone else. Make sure you never use your freedom to abuse others. Know who you are – you are My people, I have provided for you and will keep providing for you… don’t go back to your old ways.”
And Jesus makes this all the clearer to us – He declares that the enemy only wants to ‘steal, kill and destroy’, whereas He has come that we ‘may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10,10).
Where is the enemy trying to rob you of life today? Where is he trying to tangle you in a web of lies, focusing you on the things of your past, the mistakes you have made?
Prayer: Jesus, in you I am no longer a slave to fear. The old has gone, the new has come! Forgive me for the ways that I choose to live in my past. Help me trust today, Father, that you are the provider of all my needs, and that I never need to rob others of their dignity, rights or joy because I am secure in you. Thank you that you have freed me.