“You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15
The idea of stealing something is totally scary to me. I can’t even imagine the amount of fear that would paralyze me if I ever went to steal something like shoes, cash, or a camera. I would be shaking like a wet puppy in winter. But I would be sweating like it’s Phoenix in July. And I’m also pretty sure that the sick feeling in my stomach, the shame, and the guilt would drive me to return the stolen item the next day. I’m a sensitive person.
So, why am I writing about this commandment?
Because I have stolen before. Not in the way that you’d think though. I’ve never stolen any sort of “item” for the obvious, above-mentioned reasons. I stole money from my employer . . . multiple times. The typical deal when you get a job is that you spend your time and energy doing labor and in return you get paid. When I was in high school, I worked at a library and made $7.35/hr.
Myself and the other people I worked with would purposely waste time. We would sit in a corner of the library where no one could see us and we would just read. Magazines, kid’s books, Harry Potter . . . anything.
Or we would just talk. Whatever it took to escape the monotony of shelving or organizing books. And it was no big deal. Okay, in all honestly, sometimes I would feel bad about wasting all these hours. I justified it though by telling myself “everyone does it” or that “I’ll work harder the rest of the time I’m here.”
But that was stealing. And the scary thing is that it was so easy. I wasn’t doing the work but I was getting paid. I took the money without exchanging my time and effort. At one point I read an examination of conscience that asked, “Have you stolen from work? Including time?” It was such a gut check as I realized, “Oh my gosh, I do that ALL the time.” I became convicted that this was a big deal because all those half hours added up to hours, and all those hours (at $7.35/hr) actually surmounted to a lot of money. There’s not much difference if I took it from a cash register, or took it dishonestly in my paycheck.
I realize that since I didn’t know I was breaking the seventh commandment, I wasn’t totally to blame. But my conscience had been hinting to me that it wasn’t okay.
After confessing this sin a couple times, I learned my lesson and decided to be honest and responsible with my time at work. I felt so much more free without the guilt weighing on me.
Even when something seems like a little sin or that it’s not a big deal, it still takes you one step farther away from God. I learned that just because everyone does something, whether it’s shoplifting, downloading free music, wasting natural resources, taking wages that haven’t been honestly earned, or cheating on a test, I have to answer to God about my sins. Doing the right thing isn’t always the most popular thing to do, but God and I were both happier when I earned my $7.35 the honest way.
I’m praying for you.
How to Obey the Seventh Commandment
- Be responsible with your money so that you’re able to afford the things you need.
- Be a good student and study so that you won’t have to cheat on a test and steal someone else’s hard work.
- Live simply and give some of your time and money to serve other people.
- Buy music on iTunes instead of ripping it off someone else, or downloading it free, which is stealing from the musician.
- Be respectful of public and private property and don’t vandalize.
- Anything in God’s creation (natural resources, animals) deserve to be honored, cared for, and not wasted. God gave us these things for our good, but we have to be mindful of the good of our neighbor, including future generations.