Give me! Give me! H.C. Lord’s Day 42

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 42
 

Q 110. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment? 

A 110. God forbids not only outright theft and robbery, punishable by law. 
 
But in God’s sight theft also includes all scheming and swindling in order to get our neighbor’s goods for ourselves, whether by force or means that appear legitimate, such as inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume; fraudulent merchandising; counterfeit money; excessive interest; or any other means forbidden by God.
 
In addition, God forbids all greed and pointless squandering of his gifts.
 
Q 111. What does God require of you in this commandment? 
 
A 111. That I do whatever I can for my neighbor’s good, that I treat others as I would like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need.
 
Reading the 8th commandment feels, at first, like a breath of fresh air.  “Finally,” we say, “something I’ve got going for me here!”  Some of these other commandments make us cringe, especially when we start talking about them as matters of the heart.  But not stealing?  That’s easy.  I have no desire to rob my neighbor or shoplift at the mall.
 
Yet the commandment to not steal goes far deeper than simply stealing.  At the heart of this command, we find the themes of greed, cheating, injustice to the poor, and even the misuse of resources in the world.  All of this, unfortunately, is both part and parcel of western culture and sadly, deeply ingrained in the way that we often do things in America.
 
Once again, at the heart of the is not just a rule, its a heart alignment.  Living in a country that has been abundantly blessed, it is easy for us to overlook some of the less than righteous ways that we have gotten to this point.  This has also become true in the commercial sector as well.  We watch cut-throat businesses claw their way to the top, treating their employees as both abusable and expendable.  Even the medical industry is run in a way that promotes their profits over the health and well-being of those they are supposed to be helping.
 
It is easy to look around us and see structures and entities that work and thrive while violating this commandment.  Sadly, these are the perversion of a capitalist society that has chosen to promote personal gains and company profits over the well-being of those that their company was meant to benefit.  Yet, sadly do not even need to look that far to see this sort of sin, because it resides deep within us as well.
 
Have you ever taken an idea from a book or website without offering the appropriate credit?  Have you ever swiped a pencil or pen from a classroom or display?  Have you ever been lazy at work or taken things home from it that wasn’t yours?  Have you ever waisted someone else’s time either intentionally or unintentionally?  Have you ever sought a handout when you could easily have done something yourself?  Any and all of these (and unfortunately so much more) leave us in violation of this commandment.
 
Each one of these questions can sting.  As I was thinking through them I find myself having to answer yes to more than I thought I would.  An easy commandment?  Hardly.  We are steeped in a culture of self-fulfillment at almost any cost.  We will steal time from our families to give to work.  We will steal time from work to give to ourselves.  We will steal things from work so we don’t have to buy them from the store.
 
What’s worse?  We’ll do all this to “better” ourselves while ignoring the needs of our neighbor who is struggling.  It is the epitome of us not following the summary of the law: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
 
So where does this all come from?  Well, obviously sin is the answer.  Specifically, though, we are looking at hearts that are flooded with greed.  Turns out that greed is just an intense and specific form of selfishness that is centered on the disordered love of money and things.  Simply put, we want what we want and we don’t really care how we get it.
 
The question for us, then, becomes very clear: how do we combat our disordered desires?  Once again, the direction that the commandments point is also clear: we NEED a Savior.  As we encounter Jesus Christ and invite Him into our lives, the Holy Spirit begins the world of reordering our love and desires.  We are freed from the bondage of sin and selfishness and opened up to loving our neighbors and seeing them as God sees them.  This is a gradual process, not something that will happen overnight.
 
No doubt, we will readily be willing to see changes in some aspects of our lives while resistant in others.  Not too many people, if you ask them, would see overtime as a sin.  Certainly, in many cases, it’s not.  But when working becomes workaholism and the desire to provide becomes a love for money at the expense of family or other relationships, then we have crossed the boundary.  The same would be true for being late; not too many people would consider that a sin.  However, when being late is a constant disregard or lack of respect for the time of others (likely due, at that point, to an inflated sense of self-importance), then we are indeed sinning.
 
Our challenge, like that of the other commandments, is one of a major overhaul of the heart.  We cannot cherrypick the Biblical truths that we want to have in our lives while ignoring others simply because they are more culturally acceptable.  As the people of God we are called to be set apart, called to love Him and love each other over and above ourselves.  We are also people living in the age of grace, understanding forgiveness through our Savior.  Today’s post may be convicting, but rather than walking away with our heads hung low, we can look up knowing that we worship and serve a God of second chances who is always at work, remaking us in the image of His Son, and that work is ongoing.

Leave a Reply