Property (Exodus 20:15)November 5, 2023 | Brandon Cooper
This sermon discusses the 8th commandment “You shall not steal”. The pastor talks about different ways people steal, from taking candy on Halloween to identity theft. He argues that stealing ultimately comes from a selfish nature, as we are all born as takers. However, because Jesus gave himself for us, we can live differently by giving ourselves to others rather than taking for ourselves. The pastor encourages the congregation to stop following money and start following Jesus by giving generously with their time, money and possessions. He cites examples from the early church in Acts who generously shared what they had with those in need.
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Good morning church. You want to go ahead grab your Bibles open up to Exodus chapter 20. Exodus 20. We’ll be in verse 15 this morning as we continue in our series in the 10 commandments. It was Halloween this week, I’m sure you know. And so when you got little kids this is this is a big deal, of course. So we were all kind of excited to go with especially Callum and Amari, as they were doing this, and Callum, you know, did what you were hoping kids would do, which is as soon as he figured out what was happening. Like he realized this is the greatest day ever. Like people are just handing me candy. I don’t know why this is awesome. So obviously we all wanted to be there though to see this little you know, bundle of joy going from house to house and all that. So we were all there with him, which means we did what a lot of families do, we put the bowl out front, you know, the take one sign or whatever. And we’re like one house over basically, we look back and we see a pack of hooligans, like 10-year-olds hooligans who are there and you know where the story is going. dumped the bowl. Actually took the sign also, which I thought was interesting. So um, it was a good sign. I don’t think was a great sign, but they took the sign. Also, in talking to some other congregants and stuff who’ve had similar stories, I should be grateful they didn’t take the bowl, which apparently is a common thing. Some of you are like, yep, that happens. So why do I mention this? Why do I start with this story, because of course, that was theft. They took what was not theirs and took all of it. And frankly, I was a little annoyed by this. Not the only time that happened this week. So earlier this week, and you guys, most of you, would have gotten a text about this. You know, last Sunday, a car parked in our lot was hit, scraped all the way down the side. And no, no, no confession. No, nothing like that. So that’s another form of theft. Not the first time it’s happened. By the way, my car got hit here also actually. Kyle’s got hit during the week in the office parking lot. His whole bumper just devastated by this. So this is kind of common occurrence. Earlier this year, actually, twice earlier this year, I had my identity stolen. So somebody’s got a nice iPhone on me. Which they should know, I’m not an iPhone guy. So this is even, like, doubly bad. And they tried to open up a credit card. Someone else with my stuff. But that’s when we shut down because, at this point, I spent about 10,000 a month on identity protection stuff. So I’m homeless, but at least they can’t steal my identity now. A few years back my family and I were enjoying a lovely lunch at Panera and it was a nice day. So we went for a walk in Wailea Park afterward, and we were having a great time and my phone started buzzing and I was kind of ignoring it because it’s family time and it was buzzing some more and it was buzzing some more, I finally pulled my phone out. And I had notifications from every single bank that I have a credit card with because Amy’s wallet had been stolen at Panera and somebody had gone to Best Buy and spent 1000s upon 1000s of dollars in the space of just an hour or so. With our credit cards. There’s a lot of theft in the world. And it’s frustrating, like when it happens to you, you kind of get like your justice juices flowing, right? Like, as long as you do something about this kind of thing. It’s frustrating. I mean, the reason why we feel that justice is a vibe is because it breaks God’s commands. It breaks the eighth one. Real short, simple passage. If you’re there in Exodus 20:15. Even if you’re not, you’re gonna be able to track with me, I promise. You shall not steal is our passage this morning. After last week’s lengthy passage of five words, we’re back down to four. So a little shorter sermon this week. You shall not steal and yet we do. So why is it that we take what isn’t ours? As we’ll see, it’s true of all of us in different ways. I mean, I think we all break this commandment. And so we’re gonna need some self-examination as we go through the passage this morning, but more than just the diagnosis, where am I stealing what we need as a remedy and what will transform our hearts so that we don’t want to take what isn’t ours? So what we’re gonna do this morning is we’re gonna pull our main idea together as we go. That’s the fill-in-the-blanks. It’s just one sentence that’ll be your main idea once we’ve got it but we’re gonna start with the remedy this week. I want to get to the why before the how so let’s start there. Because Jesus. And that’s pretty good right there. You could, almost, don’t even need to fill in the blank just because of Jesus, right, but let’s let’s dive in here. So to get at why this matters, we’re gonna start actually in John chapter 10, instead of in Exodus already read the passage for us. But here’s John 1010. Jesus is speaking. He says this He says The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have a life and habit to the full lot of thieves in this world as I mentioned, but if you were to trace them all the way back to the beginning, it really is Satan, like Satan is the thief that we’re talking about here in this passage. He is the father of all thieves, so to speak, because what is Satan like? He comes not for the sake of the sheep, the way a shepherd does, but for his own sake, or it. He’s there, not because he loves the sheep, but because he loves a wolf, or at least the money you can sell the wolf for. And he also was a big fan of lamb chops. He is a taker doesn’t matter that the sheep aren’t his doesn’t matter that what he’s doing harms, and destroys because he’s only thinking of himself. It’s actually interesting. We know this is Satan here because the whole reason Satan rebelled against God in the first place was because he wanted what wasn’t his. He saw the praise and glory that was being offered to God and God alone. And, he thought, I want me some of that. And so he rebelled against God. But Jesus, Jesus, on the other hand, Jesus is a giver, not a taker, he says, I have come that the sheep might have abundant life. He’s freely giving, of all that he has to his people. And in a sense, it’s kind of easy. If you’ve got infinite riches, you can be pretty generous, right? You could give away billions, you could give away billions of billions, and still have the same amount of money that you started with. That’s how infinity works. But Jesus gives not just from his abundance, but at great cost to himself. In fact, the very next verse, John 10:11, Jesus says, I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep he gives sacrificially. He becomes poor for us, even when you think about it’s not just that he lays down his life, but he actually lays down the riches of heaven, at least for a time during his incarnation. Here’s the way Paul puts it. Second Corinthians eight, verse nine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, man with the riches of heaven, yet for your sake, he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. He became a poor we know this, while he lived among us on earth, Jesus was poor, he lived in poverty. He was born into poverty, stables, not, you know, luxury resort by any means. We know that his parents were poor, because when they make the sacrifice, after he was born, they offered pigeons, which was an allowance for those who couldn’t afford the animal you’re supposed to bring. A goat, if I recall. So he was born into poverty, and then he lived in poverty. Someone comes to him and says, I want to follow you. And Jesus says, foxes have holes, birds have nests, Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. He was homeless, and quite the way we would think of it today because he certainly enjoyed the hospitality of the people who supported him. But he was not rich. He was not living in a mansion, that’s for sure. But Jesus knew and lived the truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive. And so he pours out the riches of heaven on his children. And in so doing, he sets us an example that we should do as he has done. In fact, the passage I just read in Second Corinthians eight, it’s talking about sacrificial generosity. This is in a passage where Paul is asking the Corinthians to think very hard about what they will give, in this case to his famine relief efforts. Just a few verses earlier, he talks about the Macedonian church and what they had done, he writes this, this is Second Corinthians eight, one to five. And now brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches in the midst of a very severe trial. They’re overflowing joy, and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity, For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability, when they’re poor, and they’re giving sacrificially, so they’re, like really poor now entirely on their own. They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations. They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So you can just see what happens when we believe the gospel,
Jesus’s example of how he lived, but even how he died that he gave himself for us the gospel, turns takers into givers verse we can afford to give, even if we’re in extreme poverty like the Macedonians. We can afford to give and not take because we have all that we need already. We are already rich. Where though that’s kind of a big question, Julie helped us out by reading the passage Matthew 6. Kyle talked about it too. Where does your treasure lie? Like you are rich if your treasure is in heaven, and it is secure there. But if your treasure is in your bank account, your 401 K if it’s in the American dream, that might be a problem. Can’t serve two masters. Jesus says that passage in Matthew 6 which some of us are studying in Journey Group even now. So if that’s the case, we need to choose carefully. We need to weigh our options carefully here, Jesus or money? What do we learn from Jesus? Let’s start to fill in the blanks here because Jesus gave Himself for you. That’s the why. Okay, because Jesus gave Himself for you. You can live differently. As we’ll see. You don’t have to follow satan, that thief who comes to steal and kill and destroy. You don’t even have to follow your own flesh, your sin nature, let’s actually start to talk about that. So because Jesus gave Himself for you, don’t something fill in the blank. I’m gonna give you a hint right now it’s not steal. So don’t be like, I know where this is going, and write steal, and you’re gonna be wrong. Okay? Even though the text says You shall not steal? Well, we know that we are called to expansive obedience as the way one writer put it. So it’s never just make sure you keep this one really narrow command, but kind of work out the implications of this. We might sum this up as saying never deprive people of what is properly there’s, there’s a lot of application there actually like the way Colin Smith put it in his book, The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life, about the 10 Commandments. He says that what this command is prohibiting really is the desire to get as much as possible, while giving as little as possible. That’s what’s behind this being a taker without being a giver. And I think that’s exactly right. That’s the idea. Exactly. But the problem is that we are born as takers. And that’s the way our hearts are hardwired. You know this because most kids steal. And some of you are like, yep. I mean, think of my own kids. I can also think of myself and funny actually reading a bunch of books on the 10 commandments, when I was reading these chapters, how many of the authors started with a story of when they stole as kids, maybe it’s just candy from the cupboard. But maybe you’re caught shoplifting twice, like certain pastors that you have in this church. Many kids steal. The problem is it doesn’t go away on its own either turns out many adults to steal to talk to people who work in hotels, sometimes, all the things that get taken from hotels, you know, it’s not the little shampoo bottles, it doesn’t even have anymore, but you know, it’s the hairdryer and the towels, and even the sheets. Like people would probably take the lamps off the tables if they weren’t bolted to the tables, which by the way, is why they’re bolted to the tables. So we have this sinful nature. We’re born with it and a sinful nature is a selfish nature. That’s what sin is right? Whereas the command we have is to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, love your neighbor as yourself. So all sin is not obeying those commands because you’re loving this way instead. So it’s a selfish nature. That’s the heart of the problem here is I want what I want. It’s not really the loss of property. Oh, well, that’s a thing. That’s all that’s I mean, that’s the fill-in-the-blank, right? It’s not just don’t steal but don’t take for yourself. Because Jesus gave Himself for you don’t take for yourself. That for yourself is the selfish piece stealing benefits an individual at the expense of the community. Like we all pay for shoplifting. You think of how much stores spend on security, security systems, security guards, and never mind the loss that results from the theft. The companies can’t just eat that. Most companies operate with razor thin margins, so they pass that along to the consumer, so we are all paying for shoplifted goods. That’s how it always works. Honestly, this is why I was so annoyed with the gang of hooligans that stole my candy. It was not the loss of candy. I wanted the bowl to be empty, or there’s nothing worse than coming home with in our case, six buckets full of candy and then seeing that you got a bowl and two extra bags behind it sitting there also. So like I’m glad the bowl was empty. But I was annoyed that three kids got what was meant for the whole neighborhood. That all these other little “Callum’s”, who could have enjoyed going up and grabbing candy didn’t get it. Stealing benefits an individual at the expense of the community. So if that’s the heart of stealing, selfishly taking, instead of selflessly giving, well, there are many expressions of it. So let’s just walk through this, like what exactly is being prohibited here? Just give some examples. The most obvious one, of course, is stealing property, stealing stuff. This covers everything from, you know, robbing a bank vault, to printing personal documents at work. That’s a big spectrum, isn’t it? That’s something I do, by the way, like prepping for the ceremony, like, okay, okay, I need to stop and think about this. And periodically, and I got Katelyn as a witness here, so you can check with her, but periodically, I will just plop a 20 on Katelyn’s desk and be like, put this in office supplies? Because I just know that yeah, I’ve taken some paper clips. I’ve printed some documents. I want to make sure I cover that so that I’m not stealing. The internet age has certainly brought along some new ways of doing this too. It’s an especially tempting area today. It’s piracy. And used to look like actual, like, pirated DVDs and stuff. If you guys don’t know what DVDs are, ask your parents, they’ll help you out. Okay. You know, when it came out the most pirated movie at the time was The Passion of the Christ. I think that’s really funny. Now, obviously, it doesn’t just mean Christians. You know, like everyone watched this movie. It wasn’t just Christians. I don’t think it’s entirely our fault. But we probably were there and guilty. Also, at least we got the gospel message we needed at that point. Today. This, of course, looks more like password sharing. Right? This is still a form of theft. So stealing property, all sorts of opportunities to do that. Another one would be stealing time for which you have been paid. This is Michael Scott in The Office right, says, after he discovered YouTube, he didn’t work for five days. Because he just kept watching Cookie Monster sing Chocolate rain on repeat. Okay, one that probably most of us have been guilty of when we’re being paid. But the lunch gets a little bit longer. Or you know, I could take care of these couple of personal things. I gotta renew my driver’s license or whatever, as long as I’m here in front of a computer could look like falsifying hours as well. This is John Grisham in The Firm. If you haven’t read that one, I only worked one but I could bill two, and then I get twice as much money stealing time for what you’ve been paid. What about stealing value, just not giving your money’s worth? The stereotypical example here, of course, is the used car salesman who’s selling you a lemon, but you know, not letting you know about it. I had a family member who built a new home, a big home expensive home, nearly a million dollars. And this was some time ago. So it’d be more today. So paid top dollar for what ended up being bargain bin materials. Because just about the day the warranty ended all the drywall tape peeled off. That’s where they have a button, they push right after the warranty is over there. And now your transmission can go. So that’s just how it worked. But that’s that’s this theft here, right? We’re charging you this for this level of quality. And actually, we’re only providing this quality. What about stealing someone’s reputation? Shakespeare put it well. Shakespeare tends to put things well. He says who steals my purse steals trash. But he that filters from me my good name makes me poor indeed. Now how does that happen? Gossip and slander. That’s next week. That’s the ninth commandment, the action, but the result is the eighth commandment or stealing credit. Take taking credit for something you didn’t do. That might be passively. You know you’re accepting thanks for you know, buying somebody’s lunch when you’re just wanting to hand them the bag. You’re not the one who actually bought it. Or it’s actively perhaps some of you have been at work. And your boss is talking about the great idea that he had and all that he’s doing for and you’re like, what was my idea? Would have been that was your idea of stealing credit. And of course, plagiarism would be another example of this. One of pastors’ great temptations. You have a great line about the hotel and the tables being bolted to the lamps. The lamps have been bolted to tables. That’s Jen Wilkin. Okay, that’s not mine. But I could have gotten away with it. None of you have read it. So plagiarism, right is a big one happens. Kids as well, those of you who are in school, all that kind of stuff. Or what about stealing unpaid debts, taking out a loan that you don’t intend to pay back? Hitting a car without making restitution. So Kyle had his bumper fixed, 600 bucks if I recall. That’s what he had to pay. Someone stole that money from him. Or think back to the Great Recession. All these houses were in foreclosure. They did studies afterward. Of 70% of the homes that defaulted, the borrower’s lied on their applications. So they were making more than they were. Same idea. Or appraisers were doing the same thing. They were over-appraising houses so that when bad things happened, there was not as much value there as they thought, of course. The Great Recession brings out some of the more complicated aspects of this commandment because 2008 was not just about predatory borrowers. Certainly, most of us when we think about it would be thinking about predatory lenders. Yep, sure. People selling mortgages or re-fi’s to people who didn’t actually need them. Why? Because they were going to get a commission. They want to collect the fees, giving them stuff that looked good in the short term, but that was unsustainable in the long term. And even that brings up just the whole idea of enticing people to buy what they don’t need, which is certainly a form of theft, gets really gray in there, doesn’t it? Like I’m so glad I don’t work in marketing, because I just wouldn’t want to have to think this hard all the time about what’s happening. I am grateful for marketing. I’m grateful that people have made me aware of products that exist that I need, like, I am grateful. In particular, if you know anything about me, when publishers send me emails letting me know their new titles that have come out. I’m like, good, I want to read that book that looks really helpful. So marketing is good. But obviously, there’s a place in advertising where all of a sudden, we moved into the bad. Like if you’re selling beauty products, and you have to make someone feel ugly first so that they will then buy your beauty product. Now we’re in sin, aren’t we? So we got to be careful with all of this. I just like skimming across the surface, just like here are some categories to think about when it comes to stealing. In other words, there’s a lot here I think John Calvin sums it up nicely. He says we will duly obey this commandment then if content with our lot contentment. Two weeks from now, I’m not gonna steal Meritts thunder, if content with our lot, we are zealous to make only honest and lawful gain. If we do not seek to become wealthy through injustice, nor attempt to deprive our neighbor of his goods, to increase our own. We keep this command when we stop taking for ourselves. Of course, that’s only going to happen if we untangle our hearts from stuff. If we remember the last section, though, why we don’t need to take because we serve a God who gives that frees us from stealing from greed from miserliness. Like you know, there’s that sense of it’s your property. Sure, we’ll come back to that in a moment. But it’s also in your care as a steward. Because ultimately, everything you have is a gift that changes how we think about it, changes how we think about our stuff, and starts to move us towards a positive vision as well. Because Jesus gave Himself for you to take for yourself. But there’s something you can do here. So let’s look at it. But fill in the blank. Alright, so I keep saying it. We’ve said it throughout this series. We’ll see it again today, where an action is prohibited. The contrary, duty is commanded again, that’s the Westminster larger catechism. It’s true again here. Like the way Kevin Yun says it. He says, you know, if I want to keep this commandment fully, it means that I want to protect and promote my neighbor’s well-being. I want to be able to help my neighbor in need, right? Like there’s a positive vision here. So it’s not just don’t take for yourself but in light of the gospel. Give yourself to others. Give yourself to others. There’s your fill-in-the-blank. So stop following Mammon. Alright, stop following money. Start following Jesus. How well where your treasure goes, there goes your heart. It’s a little bit like, you buy the nice balloons at Jewel or something. And they come with a little weight on the bottom. And if you got kids, you know how this game goes, right? You throw the weight, and then the balloon goes with it. Right? That’s treasure and our heart. So you toss your treasure and your hearts gonna go after it. So if your heart’s not in the right place, start putting your treasure where you want it to go. And it’ll follow like the balloon following the weight. Can’t use says it well, former pastor at college church over in Wheaton. He says, “Every time I give, I declare that money does not control me.” And love this next part. He says, “Perpetual generosity is a perpetual de-deification of money. So every time you give, you’re saying money is not God, you’re de-guarding money, which is a good thing to do. That’s throwing the weight in the balloon to go with. But I think obeying this command, is about more than just giving money is important. No, that is good. We actually have to take it a step back, because where’s that money coming from? Where are you getting what you’re going to give? Paul, when he speaks of ethical behaviors, usually talks in terms of put-offs and put ons, see it in Ephesians. And clashes especially. And so it’s almost like changing clothes, you got to put off the old behavior, and then put on the new behavior. And look what he says about stealing. This is Ephesians four, verse 28. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, there’s the put-off, right? That’s the old clothes. So you must steal no longer but must work. And doesn’t just say give it says work. Doing something useful with their own hands that they may have something to share with those in need. There’s where the giving comes in, we are made to work. I would say a lot more about this. But we just did a series in August, on this whole idea right here, faith at work. So we’re made to work, we’re made to work for a lot of reasons. And again, you can go back and listen to that series if you forgot. But one reason we’re made to work is so that we can give generously. Part of why we earn money is so that we can give money. Because the option the other option is referred, Paul actually talks about this one too. So he he warning the Thessalonians to stay away from the idle and disruptive, those two usually go together. Of course, he points to his own example where he says I’ve been working hard, working night and day so that I wouldn’t be a burden to anyone. And then he wraps up with this Second Thessalonians three, verse 10. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule, the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat, don’t come back into the church for food, if you’re able to work and not willing to work, because honestly, that’s just another way to steal, really taking time for yourself, and making others work to keep you fed. That’s the selfishness. Again, this is not what the gospel should produce in us. You want to see what the gospel should produce in us, there’s a much better vision in Acts chapter four, verses 32 to 35. This is the early church and look at their generosity and where it comes from acts for 33 to 35. No one claimed that any of their possessions were their own, recognizing it all comes from God. They shared everything they had, and God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all. There were no needy persons among them. From time to time, those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales, and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. What I love about this passage is that they’re not commanded to do this. It’s not that the apostles get before the congregation and say, Hey, we’ve got some families in need in this congregation. So some of you’re gonna have to sell your property. All right, give us the money, and we’ll make sure it gets distributed to the people who need it. No, there’s no command here. This is just the overflow of a heart transformed by the gospel, they saw a need and they met it. Luke puts it really carefully, right? He says God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them. That’s why they did this. It’s because God’s grace was at work in them. This is the gospel at work in a person’s life was what it looks like when we truly get how much we’ve been given. We just start giving just the most natural thing in the world, start giving start giving sacrificially, you can these people in Acts chapter four, they sold real property. This was an added cost to them. You want to untangle the heart. You want to get your heart to follow your treasure? Start giving. And can I speak a quick word to the kids here in the room, as well. Like, now’s the time to start this. And by kids, I mean even slightly older kids like you know, college and career kids and stuff like this. You know what’s hard to do is to start earning money, figure out how to spend all that money, and then realize you probably should be giving some of that money to the ministry of the church, to those around you in need. Because now you got to cut expenses and cutting expenses is hard. You know, it’s much much easier and much wiser, just from the very beginning. Give 10% At least to the church and make the rest of it available to missions passion ministries or All the rest. And then you just always have why just know that Perkins like taxes, I just know this part comes out I don’t need to think about it. That’s not like in my I got a budget this category that’s just the automatically gone start now what giving looks like love that the Bible has a wonderfully nuanced view of all of this. The eighth word You shall not steal, establishes the right to private property. Because otherwise, it wouldn’t be theft. Right? Well, this is, you know, that was God’s and so I can have it right. I mean, I mean, whatever, we’re all just sharing God’s stuff kind of thing. No, it establishes the right to private property so this really is theft. But the Bible also establishes that the right to private property is not an absolute right. And certainly not the most important, right? You see this in the Old Testament, especially so what would happen is, of course, periodically, Israelites would fall into poverty, and really what we would think of as bankruptcy today, and what would they do in that situation? There are bankruptcy courts and things like that. They would sell their ancestral land that was given to them by God, you know, Book of Joshua kind of stuff, and often would sell themselves into slavery or more like indentured servitude. So a wealthier neighbor is lawfully purchasing this property, and really lawfully purchasing these people as well to be servants. That’s his property now. But not absolutely. Because every 50th year, there was a jubilee. And all that stuff would go back to its rightful owners, every slave was freed, and all the land because again, this was God’s gift to a specific family, all that land, went back to that family returns to the true owner. What a beautiful picture of what we’re talking about here. It’s a reminder that all that we have is a gift in the same way that the land of Israel with its ancestral lots you know, it was this inheritance for all time for the people. So think of how that nuanced view transforms our approach to the poor, biblically speaking, is equal 18. Verse seven sums it up exactly. It’s talking about the righteous man says the righteous man does not commit robbery, but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked. The same thing we keep talking about, right? It’s not just don’t do the bad thing, but also do the good thing. Don’t steal but give, but give you if you look back at 13th and 14th-century debates about canon law, like how should this work out in you know, what was then Christendom, right? Everybody was trying to live under Christian principles and Europe at this time, and they would talk about, what do you do when somebody steals because they’re poor? Like, what do you do with Schoenfeld Jones from lame is, so he steals a loaf of bread because his sister and her child are hungry. So that’s theft, right? But then they were debating this as lawyers and theologians and go, “Yeah, but no one should be poor, while someone else is living in luxury.” In fact, they’d go so far as to say that the true thief was the rich man who neglected the working poor at his doorstep. Did not make it into Western law. But that is the Bible’s view. Proverbs 327 do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act, when you have resources to give and actually I love this, the that phrase to whom it is due reads literally in the Hebrew, the owners. It’s there’s, I mean, you’ve got it right now. But it’s there’s actually if God gives you an abundance of wealth, and let’s just pause real quick and look around where we live. That’s us. Right? That’s us. You nod your head like, I see. Yep. If God gives you an abundance of wealth that isn’t yours, not totally absolute, in some sense, it belongs to the disadvantage around you. And you’ve been called to steward it to them. I love the way one pastor put it, I would tell you his name, but I don’t know how to pronounce it. And I don’t want to say it. So it’ll be up on Facebook this week. You can read it. Then. He says, “God has all the money he needs to help the needy. It’s in your pockets.” Because Jesus gave Himself for you. Don’t just take for yourself, or you’ve already got after riches of glory, don’t just take for yourself, but give yourself and your stuff to others. We are all thieves. I think we established that this morning like there’s no way you didn’t feel the prick of conscience somewhere in the sermon. I felt it. As I mentioned myself preparing this week. We’re all thieves. And we’ve been that way from the beginning really like we traced this one all the way back to Adam and Eve if you think about it, this was the first sin, the sin beneath the sin Sure, godlessness and pride but the actual manifestation of the sin the actual action is what Adam and Eve took, what wasn’t theirs. fruit that God had said, this tree is not yours, all the other ones, those are yours. This one’s not yours and they go great. That’s the one I want. But it’s just emblematic right Peter light heart talks about this. He says it’s far worse than just we take things that aren’t ours. The worst part of all this is that we steal ourselves from God. Every time we sin, we’re stealing ourselves from God because we belong to God it’s the very first catechism question by the way, what is our only hope and life and death? We are not our own but belong body and soul in life and death to God. We are his those of us who are Christians are his twice over where his because he made us but then were his because he also bought us at a price First Corinthians six the cost of Christ’s blood to were his every time we go our own way we are stealing ourselves from him. Got some really bad news. There’s some really good news too. Because look at how Jesus treats thieves. Picture the scene. There is Jesus, bruised and bloodied, gasping for breath as he hangs on a cross crucified between two theives. brigands. The word means, I love this translation, highwayman. Like Jesse James kind of stuff, right? Okay. So probably thieves and murderers. Actually, he’s hanging between two thieves. One thief starts mocking Jesus, if you were really the Messiah, you could save yourself, you could get down off that cross. And hey, as long as you’re getting people off crosses, how about a little help here? And the second thief rebuked him. He says this Luke chapter 23. We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. Right? We’re thieves. This Man has done nothing wrong. Jesus is innocent. Jesus is the only human who’s ever lived, who didn’t ever steal anything, not even himself from his father. Then he said, Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom? I love that this is off-topic. But I love that because at this point, I think this thief is the only person on God’s green earth who thinks Jesus is about to get a kingdom. Like even the disciples sitting there like so we were wrong. Ha. He’s not the Messiah. There’s no kingdom. I don’t realize as my right hand left-hand stuff like it’s over. And this guy goes, I can tell you’re ascending your throne right now. Would you remember me when you come into your kingdom to incredible faith at this point? And look what Jesus says, Well, son, you’re a thief. Like you said, you’re getting what you deserve. Why don’t you just hush up now and die? No, that’s not what he said. Truly, I tell you today you will be with Me in Paradise. Today. That is bad news. It means the guy is about to die, of course. But good news because he says today, there’s nothing more to be done. He does not say why don’t you clean yourself up first, get your act together, make restitution for all that you’ve stolen, which is of course what Scripture commands we shouldn’t do. This guy doesn’t have an opportunity. And Jesus goes, it’s fine. There is grace. Today you will be with Me in Paradise. We’re in the feeding business. We have been since eaten, but Jesus is in the saving thieves business. That’s the good news. This man had spent a lifetime taking what wasn’t his to get something he never found until his last day. Because everything money falsely promises comfort, pleasure, security status, Jesus freely offers us in himself. So let’s stop taking for ourselves but start giving of ourselves because we serve King Jesus who did just that for us. Let’s pray.
Father, we come to you as thieves absolutely unworthy to stand in your presence to approach your throne to ask anything of you. And yet even before we did that, before we would ever dream of approaching you or even want to approach you, you came to us. You sent your son. You had your son give up everything, all the glory of heaven, to come and find us thieves that we are and to bring us back to you to win us over once more. Lord, would you let that truth, the knowledge of your love and grace, so touch our hearts now that the thought of stealing would be unconscionable because we know how much we’ve been freely given and we couldn’t possibly think to take any more for ourselves, but instead would so much rather give of all that you have given us for the sake of others and for the glory of your name. Amen.