I've been writing a series of letters to my kids based on the 10 Commandments. You can find my other letters in this series by following the links below.
- first letter (introduction)
- second letter (first commandment - no other gods)
- third letter (second commandment - no idols)
- fourth letter (third commandment - don't misuse God's name)
- fifth letter (fourth commandment - keep the Sabbath day holy)
- sixth letter (fifth commandment - honor your father and mother)
- seventh letter (sixth commandment - do not murder)
- eighth letter (seventh commandment - do not commit adultery)
And now for the ninth letter discussing the eighth commandment...
We are nearing the end of our 10 Commandments - only a few more to go. Today's letter is about the eighth commandment - "You shall not steal."
What does it mean to steal? There are a couple different ways to define the word steal. The first, and most common, is to take something without permission and without the intent of returning it. Maybe you see a piece of candy lying around and no one is looking. Is it ok to take it and eat it without permission? According to this commandment, if you do not have permission then it's stealing and that is not permitted. Anytime you take a physical object that does not belong to you, without permission from the owner, it is stealing.
Another definition of stealing has to do with honesty. Perhaps you hear a wonderful idea and you try to pass it off as your own. If you don't give credit to the original source, then you are stealing the idea and being dishonest to those around you. It's much better to say to the person who had the idea, "What a wonderful idea! Do you mind if I use it as well?" If you don't have the opportunity to ask the person, another acceptable way to handle the situation is to be honest about where you got the idea to begin with. You could say something like, "My friend wrote a similar story and I loved the idea so much that I decided to try it myself."
One other definition of steal is to do something in secret - like "steal a kiss" when no one is looking or "steal a glance" at another student's test paper. You aren't taking anything from anyone or being dishonest, but you are doing something you don't want anyone else to see.
When we steal, we are not keeping the New Testament command to love our neighbor. It is not loving to take something (either a physical object or an idea) from someone else without their permission. In many cultures, there is a penalty for stealing - either a monetary fine or perhaps even time in jail. It's important to keep the law - both the civil law and God's law. Following God's commands takes discipline and a resolve to behave differently than those around us. It may be hard to resist temptation, but we need to remember that God doesn't give us these commands for the sake of ordering us around. He has given them to us out of love, because He truly does know what is best for us.
May God bless you as you continue to grow in your knowledge of Him. I pray these letters are helpful to you, and that you are better able to understand how much God loves you. I know they have been helpful for me, and that I have learned a lot from writing them. Until next time, be faithful.