A heart of thanksgiving is always looking for ways to help others, as well as understanding in humility the temporality of the world. Selfishness is the opposite of Christian character. Arrogantly assuming the earth was made for your pleasure and that you have a right to all regardless of who or what gets in the way is sign number one that you are breaking the 8th Commandment.
I don’t mean to take away from your time doing other things (an 8th Commandment joke), but this week we are going talk about the sin of theft. While financial resources are no question the main focus of the law there is a lot more going on here than just that. Let’s look at the Catechism questions for further clarification:
Q. 73. Which is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.
Q. 74. What is required in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment requires the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.
Q. 75. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment forbids whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbor’s wealth or outward estate.
As noted wealth is of course an important thing when it comes to being obedient on this point. However, that which constitutes wealth encompasses matters like land, material goods, and even family heritage. As an example, taking care that the Gospel which we have received from our forefathers is properly preached and taught is a matter of the 8th Commandment. We have no right to steal from future generations the words of life, in fact in the Old Testament the prophets will call out false teachers in this particular way, of taking from the people under their care what Jehovah had provided in His word. Central to this statute is remembering our relationship to reality as it is, and who it is that has made all things for His glory. As stewards of God’s creation we are neither to make new nor go on our own way.
The call of the Israelites to procure the country then owned by the Canaanites is placed in terms of gaining property which belongs to the LORD. In other words they are reclaiming something God had set aside for His covenant people through the promises made to Abraham. In Leviticus 25 as the year of Jubilee is laid out one of the consequences of the law was to see any land which had been sold should be returned to the family it was originally owned by. The reasoning behind this kind of idea is made clear in v.23-24, “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land.” When we read that the whole concept is quite foreign to us. Especially since several folks in our church live on grants given to their forefathers by the last king of America, George III. However, unlike the English sovereign whose ownership was temporary, the proprietorship of the land of God never changes.