I began attending God’s Church at age 21, but I’m convinced that God used events earlier in my life to prepare me for His calling. While in high school, I stole something that was worth about $20. Over time, my conscience hurt me more and more as I reflected on what I’d done.
But that is not the end of the story. A while later, someone broke into our storage building and apparently stole only two things—what I had previously stolen plus something that was very dear to me. It seems too amazing to be a coincidence. I think God orchestrated the situation to teach me a lasting lesson (see Hebrews 12:5-11 Hebrews 12:5-11  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him:
 For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and whips every son whom he receives.
 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?
 But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.
 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?
 For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
 Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.
American King James Version×).
Through the Eighth Commandment, we know that God intends for everyone to enjoy the right of private property, and to respect the property of others. Among the Bible’s inheritance laws, the laws regarding the Jubilee year even guaranteed that land would remain in the family in the long run (Leviticus 25).
People should be relying on God as their Provider, relying on the Bible as their Guidebook, and relying on their own integrity, hard work and other practical laws of success. (See Matthew 6:19-34 Matthew 6:19-34  Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be single, your whole body shall be full of light.
 But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!
 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
 Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?
 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?
 And why take you thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
 And yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
 Why, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
 But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.
American King James Version×, Ephesians 6:5-9 Ephesians 6:5-9  Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ;  Not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;  With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:  Knowing that whatever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.  And, you masters, do the same things to them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
American King James Version×and Colossians 3:22-25 Colossians 3:22-25  Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men;  Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ.  But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done: and there is no respect of persons.
American King James Version×.)
Sadly, raw human nature is dominated by selfishness, lust, greed and envy. And with an increasingly secular and materialistic world ruled by Satan, many people rely on all the wrong things including dishonesty and stealing. (See 1 Timothy 6:9-10 1 Timothy 6:9-10  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
American King James Version×.) Many kinds of stealing have been pandemic throughout history, even among religious people. The victims of robbery often suffer long-lasting emotional scars and feelings of insecurity as well as the challenges of overcoming the losses.
We experience the temptation to steal even from childhood. It is critically essential for parents to be continually teaching God’s laws and biblical values to their children (Deuteronomy 6:1-25 Deuteronomy 6:1-25  Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you go to possess it:
 That you might fear the LORD your God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, you, and your son, and your son’s son, all the days of your life; and that your days may be prolonged.
 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with you, and that you may increase mightily, as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you, in the land that flows with milk and honey.
 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
 And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart:
 And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
 And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
 And you shall write them on the posts of your house, and on your gates.
 And it shall be, when the LORD your God shall have brought you into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you great and goodly cities, which you built not,
 And houses full of all good things, which you filled not, and wells dig, which you digged not, vineyards and olive trees, which you planted not; when you shall have eaten and be full;
 Then beware lest you forget the LORD, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
 You shall fear the LORD your God, and serve him, and shall swear by his name.
 You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;
 (For the LORD your God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and destroy you from off the face of the earth.
 You shall not tempt the LORD your God, as you tempted him in Massah.
 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he has commanded you.
 And you shall do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land which the LORD swore to your fathers.
 To cast out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken.
 And when your son asks you in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God has commanded you?
 Then you shall say to your son, We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand:
 And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and sore, on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his household, before our eyes:
 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he swore to our fathers.
 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.
American King James Version×).
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. (One example of passive stealing is failing to notify a cashier when undercharged or given too much change.)
No matter how secretive a sinner is, God, the Judge of all, sees everything, and His Word declares that “thieves” . . . will not “inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:10 1 Corinthians 6:10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×). But God is amazingly merciful. Thankfully, He forgives when there is true repentance!
Many forms of stealing
Space does not permit stating the numerous scriptures that forbid specific types of stealing. And a list of all types of thievery would be endless, but the following are some common types that cacn directly or indirectly violate the spirit of the Eighth Commandment.
• Directly stealing money or physical property from individuals or companies. This category includes robbery, burglary and shoplifting.
• Stealing from employers. Employees failing to be on the job and working diligently when they are being paid to work. Being wasteful, embezzling the company’s money, swiping company property, falsifying an expense account or using company equipment for personal use without permission are all forms of stealing.
• Stealing from employees by overworking them, not paying a fair wage or salary, not providing the benefits they were promised or withholding wages.
• Defrauding customers or clients with false advertising, false labeling, false claims, hidden defects or excessive interest.
• Intentional defaulting on loans and debts. An unforeseen crisis can happen to anyone, but many people borrow money or run up huge charges on credit cards with no intention or no ability of repaying the debts.
• Installing ransomware on someone’s computer to force the owner to pay a ransom.
• Initiating frivolous lawsuits.
• Stealing from a government by withholding due taxes or by dishonest welfare claims (see Romans 13:1 Romans 13:1Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
American King James Version×, 6-7).
• Stealing someone’s good name. Damaging someone’s reputation, such as with accusations, slander or gossip, can be a permanent injury in someone’s life. (See Proverbs 22:1 Proverbs 22:1A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.
American King James Version×and Ecclesiastes 7:1 Ecclesiastes 7:1A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
American King James Version×.)
• Kidnapping. In ancient Israel, the penalty for that crime was death (Exodus 21:16 Exodus 21:16And he that steals a man, and sells him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.
American King James Version×).
• Stealing someone’s innocence. Examples include rape of children and/or adults, parents allowing adolescents to be sexually intimate, or even parents and others exposing children to immoral entertainment.
• Stealing by withholding love, respect and affection for others. God teaches us that husbands and wives have a special responsibility to express marital love to each other (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 1 Corinthians 7:3-5  Let the husband render to the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife to the husband.
 The wife has not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband has not power of his own body, but the wife.
 Defraud you not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
American King James Version×). Similarly, parents owe it to their children to give love and discipline—children owe it to their parents to honor them.
• Stealing intellectual property by illegally copying software (including music and movies) or violating patents and trademarks. Plagiarism is also a form of stealing.
• Stealing trust by breaking commitments, contracts and promises.
• Knowingly buying stolen property is being an accomplice to a thief, whether the purchase is for one’s own use or to make money as a fence (one who buys stolen goods to resell).
Stealing from God!
People steal from God in two major ways. First of all, God owns us because He created us—plus He sacrificed His Son to redeem us (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 1 Corinthians 6:19-20  What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?
 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
American King James Version×). Therefore, our time, talents and energies should be devoted to serving and glorifying God. Otherwise, we are servants stealing from our Master.
Secondly, God owns absolutely everything but He allows us to have stewardship over most of our earnings. He only requires that we first pay a tithe (a tenth) and give offerings from our earnings. In Malachi 3:8 Malachi 3:8Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings.
American King James Version×, 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.” Embezzling from God! Once a person understands that God commands tithing, it is a very serious sin to disobey this law.
God’s laws require full restitution for stolen goods
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. The additional amount for reparation was intended as a punishment—plus it helped compensate the victim for the stress and temporary loss. The specific laws are found in Exodus 22:1 Exodus 22:1If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
American King James Version×, 3-6, 12 and Leviticus 6:1-7 Leviticus 6:1-7  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie to his neighbor in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or has deceived his neighbor;  Or have found that which was lost, and lies concerning it, and swears falsely; in any of all these that a man does, sinning therein:  Then it shall be, because he has sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he has deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,  Or all that about which he has sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it to him to whom it appertains, in the day of his trespass offering.  And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with your estimation, for a trespass offering, to the priest:  And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he has done in trespassing therein.
American King James Version×.
In most countries today, the “justice system” punishes criminals but does nothing for the victims of the crimes. That’s very sad. If we as godly individuals realize we have caused someone a loss or injury, we should do what we can for that person to make up for the loss or expense.
The way of give versus the way of get
Any commandment of God that forbids bad things implies the opposite—that we should be doing good things instead. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will treat them like we want to be treated. That’s the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12 Matthew 7:12Therefore all things whatever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×).
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28 Ephesians 4:28Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs.
American King James Version×). This teaches three lessons: (1) Never steal. (2) Practice the biblical work ethic and be productive so you have enough to provide for your family plus give to others. (3) Be compassionate and generous to those who need help. (Regarding the third lesson, see Luke 6:27-38 Luke 6:27-38  But I say to you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,  Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which spitefully use you.  And to him that smites you on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that takes away your cloak forbid not to take your coat also.  Give to every man that asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again.  And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.  For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? for sinners also love those that love them.  And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? for sinners also do even the same.  And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.  But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.  Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven:  Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete with it shall be measured to you again.
American King James Version×, Acts 20:35 Acts 20:35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
American King James Version×, Romans 12:1-13 Romans 12:1-13  I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teaches, on teaching;  Or he that exhorts, on exhortation: he that gives, let him do it with simplicity; he that rules, with diligence; he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness.  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; hold to that which is good.  Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
American King James Version×, 2 Corinthians 9:10-13 2 Corinthians 9:10-13  Now he that ministers seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)  Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God.  For the administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings to God;  Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution to them, and to all men;
American King James Version×, Philippians 2:4 Philippians 2:4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
American King James Version×and Hebrews 13:16 Hebrews 13:16But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
American King James Version×.)
Many scriptures teach loving kindness, mercy, compassion and generosity. One example is the law allowing “the poor and the stranger” to glean food from your farm or orchard (Leviticus 19:9-10 Leviticus 19:9-10  And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.
 And you shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
American King James Version×, 34). Another example teaches that if you come across an ox, sheep or donkey, you should find the owner and return the animal to him even if he is your enemy (Deuteronomy 22:1 Deuteronomy 22:1You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide yourself from them: you shall in any case bring them again to your brother.
American King James Version×; Exodus 23:4 Exodus 23:4If you meet your enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again.
American King James Version×). God does not condone “finders, keepers; losers, weepers!” When you find something that doesn’t belong to you, you should do your best to find the owner or turn it in at an office so the owner can retrieve it. (Also see Proverbs 3:27-28 Proverbs 3:27-28  Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it.  Say not to your neighbor, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when you have it by you.
American King James Version×.)
A world without stealing!
What a dramatically different world it would be if there were no stealing! Well, that world is coming. Jesus Christ will return and establish the Kingdom of God over all the earth, and He and the saints will teach and enforce the Ten Commandments everywhere. It will be a happy world, because honest people are happier people!
Think of the prosperity when individuals and companies will no longer be losing money to thievery and no longer be spending money for security systems! Think of the peace of mind people will have when they are living in an honest world where everyone can be trusted, and no one is suffering the financial losses and emotional trauma of having been a victim of theft.
May God’s Kingdom come!