Stealing has been punishable in some cultures with severe fines, loss of appendages and even death. Certainly, the societies of men have not taken this crime lightly, and neither does God. As Mount Sinai quaked and smoked, and as lightning flashed and thunder and trumpets sounded, God enunciated the eighth commandment: “You shall not steal (Exodus 20:15 Exodus 20:15You shall not steal.
American King James Version×).” Men trembled with fear at the event (verse 18). They knew God was serious! So, it behooves us to know what the commandment entails. In this discussion guide, you will explore the application of this eighth commandment.
What is Stealing?
EXODUS 20:15: “You shall not steal.”
1. Construct a working definition for the word “steal.” In doing this, think of these questions: Can you steal only objects? Does the cost of something make stealing it okay or not okay? How does stealing differ from borrowing?
2. Does God add any caveats, qualifications or exceptions to this commandment? Why is this important?
3. Have you ever had anything stolen from you? If so, what was your emotional reaction? How did it make you feel?
4. List ways in which people can steal from others: (a) at school; (b) on the job; (c) playing games.
5. How could waste and negligence be forms of stealing?
6. What business practices are forms of stealing?
NOTE: Recently a teenager was discovered to have made thousands of dollars by investing in $2 stocks. After purchasing the stocks, the teenager, using many different names, would enter many “chat rooms” on the Internet and encourage others to buy the same stocks. He would assert (without any knowledge of the companies’ financial state, nor the quality of their product or service) the stocks were sure to increase greatly in value quickly. The teen would then sell his stock shortly thereafter when others, following his advice, bought stock thus raising the value of it. Do you think that the teen was guilty of breaking the 8th commandment? Why or why not?
7. How can governments steal from their citizens?
8. What are some consequences for stealing? What is the ultimate punishment? (Read I Corinthians 6:9-10 and comment.)
9. What is the Christian approach to borrowing?
Can We Steal From God?
MALACHI 3:8-9: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.”
1. To whom do tithe and offering monies truly belong? How should we treat such funds?
2. We see from these verses that God takes stealing from Him seriously. What should our attitude be in paying tithes and giving offerings? Can we steal spiritually and not physically? If so, how?
3. Read Genesis 3:1-6 Genesis 3:1-6 1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.
4 And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die:
5 For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat.
American King James Version×. How were Adam and Eve guilty of breaking the eighth commandment in the Garden of Eden?
MATTHEW 15:19: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”
1. What is meant by the word “heart” in this verse?
2. Explain how thefts begin in the “heart.”
3. Why do people steal?
4. What justifications have you heard people use for stealing?
EPHESIANS 4:28: “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.”
1. How can the 8th commandment be stated positively? (HINT: What values or virtues are the opposite of stealing?)
2. What reward is there for working hard and then giving part of your earnings to the needy? Have you ever done that? How did it make you feel?
3. What attitude should a Christian have toward acquiring anything?
1. How common is stealing in any form in your community?
2. What have you learned about the eighth commandment you didn’t realize before using this guide?
3. Describe a world in which stealing did not exist. How would it differ from today’s society? What would no longer be necessary? What freedoms would we experience?