Thou Shalt Not Steal!

Borrowing of the wrong sort is based on the feeling that one's own needs are not being fulfilled. But, God loves and supplies His children with exactly what they need when they listen to Him and respond.

By Caryl W. Krueger

Categories: Guidance, Obedience, Ten Commandments (6-10)

Many parents don't find this commandment from Exodus 20 pertinent to their family, but on closer examination, stealing goes far beyond hot-wiring a car or even shop-lifting. Definitions of stealing include "to take without permission" and "to usurp what rightfully belongs to another."

To take without permission includes the casual but bothersome borrowing that often goes on in a family: using a sibling's electronic game without asking, borrowing a shirt and returning it with a stain on it, or helping oneself to two or more cookies after gaining permission to have just one. This kind of borrowing is truly dishonest and is based on the feeling that one's own needs are not being fulfilled so one must take (steal). But, God gives his children what they need and he loves and supplies them with those needs when they listen to Him and respond.

To usurp what rightfully belongs to another can involve the stealing of a friend's good idea, the copying of his exam answers, the plagiarizing of Internet information as one's own research. Since God is the source of intelligence, no one has a corner on reflecting His wisdom, and an understanding of this saves time and involves no guilt. Some kids fail to develop their own unique styles and are merely copycats of friends and celebrities.

Some youngsters like to steal the spotlight, feeling that they need undue attention and forgetting that God values each of us for our individuality. And, many youngsters steal their parents' time with deviousness rather than seeking to solve challenges on their own or with parental help. For example, they purposefully put off responsibilities with lame excuses and empty promises: "Yes, I'm gonna help to clean the garage," or "I will write my book report." But, actually such things only get done after many time-consuming reminders - or never. Thus they steal time from their parents.

Stealing is taking. And what is the opposite, the remedy, for taking? It is giving. It is sharing. It is obedience to God's will. This obedience is a child's assurance against failure. It is being and doing what God wants, not what "I want." This month gently bring this topic of stealing into your family's conversation time. Find what can be shared and not taken. You may be pleased with your youngster's ability to grasp the deeper meanings of this command.