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The Eighth Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15) conveys to us that God intends people to enjoy the right of private property and also that the property of others should be respected.
Active stealing—taking something that does not rightfully belong to you—is a sin of commission. Passive stealing—deliberately withholding what belongs to another—is a sin of omission. (An example of passive stealing would be failing to notify a cashier when undercharged or given too much change.)
Numerous scriptures forbid specific types of stealing. Following are some common behaviours that directly or indirectly violate the spirit of the Eighth Commandment:
Click on the link below to read more about other examples of stealing.
People steal from God in two major ways. God owns us because He created us—plus He sacrificed His Son to redeem us (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Therefore, our time, talents and energies should be devoted to serving and glorifying God.
Secondly, God owns everything, but He allows us to have stewardship over most of our earnings. He does however require we first pay a tithe (a tenth) and give offerings from our earnings. In Malachi 3:8, God said, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.”
Under the covenant God made with Israel, when a thief was caught, he had to restore to the victim the value of what was stolen plus an additional amount (Leviticus 6:1-7). In most countries today, the “justice system” punishes criminals but does nothing for the victims of the crimes. If we have caused someone a loss or injury, we should do what we can to make up for the loss or expense.
If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will treat them like we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). The following Bible verse teaches three lessons: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28):
God, the Judge of all, sees everything, and His Word declares that “thieves” . . . will not “inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:10). But God is amazingly merciful and forgives when there is true repentance.