If you were having a conversation with Jesus about not stealing, do you think He would have anything to add such as, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not steal. But I say….’?” Of course He would, because Jesus wants us to look beyond the simple words of a Commandment so we can discover ourselves. By looking beyond the words, “Do not steal,” and looking at the motivations of our heart, we discover what and who we love most. We discover whether we sincerely love others or if that love is overshadowed by selfishness and fear.
Jesus would likely continue the conversation by encouraging you to cultivate generosity in your heart so you can not just share, but share joyfully. And not just share your possessions, but share your time, your appreciation for others and various intangibles that are even more valuable than money or possessions. Being generous demonstrates that God is real and is living through you.
The Seventh Commandment calls us to detach from the things of this world, so our possessions don’t impede us from setting our hearts on pursing treasures in Heaven. The Seventh Commandment teaches us to be grateful for the big and small blessings each day offers, and it teaches us to trust that God will always provide what we need.
Conversely, stealing is evidence that we love ourselves more than we love others and that we love the creation more than we love the Creator. Stealing shows a lack of trust that God will provide what we need, it shows we lack generosity and it turns us inward on ourselves, setting us up to be discontent, never having enough.
There are many forms of stealing. Some are very obvious, and others are not so easy to recognize because they don’t involve the act of taking. When we keep something that belongs to another, it is the same as stealing. Some examples are when we find something, like a wallet or when the cashier gives us too much change. Other forms of stealing that are often not easily recognized include gossiping, which steals someone’s privacy and reputation, and being mean to people, which steals their dignity and robs them of having a good day. There are many ways to steal that don’t involve taking.
The Seventh Commandment teaches that all of God’s creation is intended for everyone’s benefit, not just the “chosen few.” For a variety of reasons, some have too little and others have too much. Those with too little are likely to struggle in their experience of God’s goodness because they are focusing on surviving.
Those with too much are likely to struggle in seeing the goodness of God because they are focusing on accumulating more and safeguarding it all. The Seventh Commandment calls us to moderation. To have what we need and share the rest with others who struggle with less than they need. Through moderation and generosity, we participate with God in His plan of salvation for ourselves and our neighbors.
We are called to prioritize the allocation of our tangible and intangible possessions according to the Greatest Commandment. That is, to first love God with all our heart, soul and mind. Regarding our possessions we do this through a tithe to His church. Next, the Greatest Commandment calls us to love others as we love ourselves. Therefore, we are not just to share from our leftovers. We are to be intentional in planning to include what others need, the same as we plan for our own needs.
The Seventh Commandment is a call to greatness and an invitation to participate in God’s plan of joy, freedom and salvation through our work and our generosity.
Click here to review the Ten Commandments in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).
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