Pastor's Page - November 2017
You shall not steal. –Exodus 20:15
Stealing happens every day—by those who keep extra change mistakenly returned after a sale; by merchants who gouge shoppers with exceedingly high pricing; by employees working slowly or not at all; by executives taking hefty bonuses but rarely or never raising wages of workers. Stealing happens so much that we are heartened by the news of those who ‘did the right thing’, resisting temptations to enrich themselves by the misfortune of others.
Martin Luther’s instruction regarding the seventh commandment is an outline of how the commandment is broken but also by how the commandment is kept. People break the commandment by taking money and property from others without consent. They acquire the wealth of others by shoddy merchandise or crooked deals. People keep the commandment by helping others to improve and protect their property and income.
While much of the focus of the seventh commandment is about our relationships with others, in the Bible ‘You shall not steal’ is also about our relationship with God. For instance, in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, an
indictment is made toward people skimping on offerings. For failing to offer a full tithe (10% of income) to God, Malachi announces that God is being robbed. Speaking for God, Malachi said, “You are robbing me…in your tithes and offerings! You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me—the whole nation of you! Bring the full tithe….Then all nations will count you happy, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:8-12)
Surprising as it may seem, stealing from God has been a consistent, widespread violation of the seventh commandment in the Church and throughout the world. Few people reach or even intend to reach for the biblical guideline of a full tithe. Their money and time are spent on matters that always appear more important. On another page of this newsletter, an article (Faith & Family, Teaching Generosity) is included for everyone’s consideration. During this month of our stewardship campaign, reading this article will hopefully inspire us toward better budgeting and time management, which means greater attentiveness to how the seventh commandment includes our relationship with God.
‘You shall not steal’, the seventh commandment, is not only about cookie jars and banks, it’s also about whether we’re living in a trusting relationship with God, who is the source and provider of all that we gain in life. Please make an effort this year to read the stewardship material you will receive in the mail. Plan to make a sincere, faithful pledge of money and time for the coming year to support the ministries of our congregation.
Giving and sharing with you in Christ,
Pastor Doug Heagy