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“You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15

With this commandment, the LORD God forbids us to take or desire that which rightfully belongs to another. Thus, we are not to rob, steal or take the property of another by any dishonest means, including fraud, deception, unjust lawsuits, gambling, unrighteous labor or wages, unfair pricing and the like. Instead of seeking dishonest gain, God urges us to work and earn our own property and goods and to share with those in need.

The Bible teaches: “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). God also tells us: “You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:35-36).

Psalm 37:21 says: “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives.” Jeremiah 22:13 warns: “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, who uses his neighbor’s service without wages and gives him nothing for his work….” Expressing these same principles, Leviticus 19:13 says, “You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning.” (Cf. Deuteronomy 24:14-15.) God even warns against taking advantage of the poor and lending for personal gain when He says: “If you lend money to any of my people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest” (Exodus 22:25). God even forbids us to be lazy and dependent upon the charity of others when His Word commands: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

What does God require of us when He forbids us to steal? He would have us love our neighbor and do all in our power to help him protect and keep his property and business. We see this from the principle established by this command: “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again” (Exodus 23:4). While it may not be an ox or a donkey, we are to return to our neighbor property which he has lost and help him to keep what God has given him. Jesus Himself says: “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). The Scriptures require us to treat our neighbor in the same way we would want to be treated. Thus, instead of taking away our neighbor’s property and business, we should be of service to him in keeping it.

Finally, instead of seeking to obtain the property of others for ourselves, God would have us share what He has given us and help others in their need. The Bible says, “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). Have we kept this commandment as the LORD God requires? Again, we must admit our shortcomings and sins and repent, turning to the LORD God to deal with us in His grace and mercy for Jesus’ sake and imploring His help and strength to amend our ways and live for Him! In Jesus, and for the sake of His blood shed for us upon the cross, we find forgiveness. Cf. Acts 3:19; 1 John 2:1-2.

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for my selfishness and greed. Forgive me for not loving and caring for others in need. Cleanse my heart and renew my mind that I might live for You and seek to keep Your holy commandments. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13

Every human life is a creation of God, and every human life is precious to God. Why? Because God created man in His own image and Jesus Christ died for all people (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7,21-22; 9:5-6; Psalm 139:13-16; 1 John 2:1,2; 2 Corinthians 5:15).

Except in cases of punishing evildoers and waging just wars to protect life and property, God has reserved for Himself the right to end or destroy any human life (Genesis 9:5-6; Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:14; Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17; Psalm 31:15; 39:4-5; 90:1-3; Job 14:1-12; Acts 17:24-28). The Bible teaches that the practice of euthanasia, abortion, self inflicted death (suicide) and all other unjustified taking of human life is murder and sin.

Most feel they have kept this commandment of the LORD, as long as they have not actually killed or murdered another human being. However, as we see from the Scriptures, this commandment is far more reaching than the act of murder itself.

Exodus 21:29 and Deuteronomy 22:8 expand this commandment to manslaughter, or the taking of human life through carelessness or negligence.

Jesus, in His sermon on the mount, says: “Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). The Apostle John also writes: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).

Perhaps we have not actually killed another person, but have we ever hated someone or called him a fool or empty-headed? If so — and which of us has not — we are guilty and condemned by this commandment of the LORD! This is why the Scriptures tell us that “there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20), and that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

It is also the reason why each of us needs to repent – acknowledging our sins and failure to keep God’s holy commandments in our thoughts, desires, words and actions, and trusting in the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Messiah Jesus as full payment for our sins. In the crucified and risen Jesus, we sinners find forgiveness and life everlasting!

Dear Lord Jesus, true Son of God and true man, for the sake of Your blood, shed for us upon the cross, forgive us for our failures to keep Your holy commandments. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (Deuteronomy 5:16)

This commandment of the LORD requires us to honor our parents as our God-given representatives. Children are to obey their parents; and parents – especially fathers – are to bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21; Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

And notice that this commandment contains a reason to obey – a promise – “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:3). What does it mean? Well, to disobey and dishonor our parents brings us all sorts of trouble and usually leads to disobeying our teachers in school, our pastors at church and our government leaders, resulting in a troubled life and often spiritual and eternal death. And, God punishes those who disrespect and disobey their parents and promises blessing and long life to those who obey and respect their parents and others in authority over them (cf. Proverbs 30:17; Romans 13:2).

This command, too, extends to others whom God has placed over us in civil government, the church and at work and in school. The Bible tells us: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1); and, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17; cf. 1 Peter 2:17ff.; Ephesians 6:5ff.; Colossians 3:18ff.).

The only exception to God’s command to honor and obey parents is that we are “to obey God rather than men” when there exists a conflict between the will of parents and other authorities and the will of God Himself (cf. Acts 5:29).

And this commandment does not end when we are grown, because the Bible also commands us to honor and care for our parents in their old age. 1 Timothy 5:4 says to grown children: “Let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.”

Children sin against God when they disobey their parents and do not show them the honor and respect which God requires. Parents, too, are guilty of sin when they do not bring up their children to know the LORD and His ways. All of us are guilty when we do not submit to our government and its laws in all matters except where they contradict God’s Word. And, we are guilty when we do not heed the admonitions of our pastors and spiritual leaders when they rightly apply God’s Word to our lives.

How thankful we can be that Jesus Christ kept this commandment perfectly for us, not only in deed, but in word and desire! The Scriptures tell us that He submitted Himself to His parents and honored them (Luke 2:51; cf. John 19:25-27). And, how thankful we can be that Jesus also bore upon the cross the just punishment for our sin (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 1 John 2:1ff.)! In Him, we sinners find pardon and forgiveness; and, in Him, we find strength and guidance to amend our ways and live in accord with God’s will and command.

Dear Lord Jesus, Son of God and our Savior, forgive our sins against the perfect will of God, our Maker, and give us the desire to live our lives for You. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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