A thief named Adam

The eighth commandment given to Moses by the Lord on Mt. Sinai is “You shall not steal.” Like many of the commandments it requires us to dig deep and search our hearts. Most of us are law-abiding citizens not prone to violence or theft or any similar infractions. The thing about the commandments is that the Lord Jesus Christ does simply expect us to abide by them. According to His life giving teachings we are expected to live these commandments perfectly, as He has done.

So when we think of stealing we might think of taking something that doesn’t belong to us such as a child taking candy from a store or someone trying to steal a very pricey piece of jewelry. We may not think about how we apply this principle in our own workplace. Do we charge fair rates for our services or do we gouge unsuspecting people with our rates, prices etc. We should always be doing our best to give people what they have paid for and to even exceed their expectations whenever humanly possible. That is what separates us and makes us different in a good way.

We should also keep in mind that some of the great Church Fathers have spoken about a different kind of theft. St. John Chrysostom reminds us that even the shoes that we have that we do not need are not really ours. God blessed you with more than you need so that you would give a healthy share to those who have real need. When we keep them for ourselves St. John reminds us that we are actually stealing from the poor. So that is another aspect to this commandment.

Let’s go further with this and search our hearts a bit. After all, we don’t come to church simply to feel good and drink coffee. We come for some other very important reasons including to hear the word of God and be challenged. With that being said, we should be reminded that each of us is a thief. Each one of us has stolen from God. From the time of Adam there has been a constant struggle between God and man. Since the beginning man has found ways of taking all the wonderful gifts that were handed to him by God and using them only for himself. Here are a few examples: God has given us the gift of time. How do we use this precious gift? Do we honor God with that gift of time or do we merely do the things that we want to do? Do we spend all of our time either working or entertaining ourselves? Do we take the time to thank God for that gift of time by returning a portion of it in prayer and service and songs of praise?

 To call something yours when it is not really yours is to steal.

Our life itself is an amazing gift. The sheer fact that you are sitting here today is a miracle. What have we done with these miraculous lives we’ve been given? How have we used the energy that God has given us? Has it been used to fulfill our true purpose in life or simply to fulfill our never ending hunger for more?

Dear Christians, we belong to Jesus Christ. We call Him Lord and that means that He actually is our master and we are His servants. My will is no longer the most important thing in life, that was Adam’s problem and his downfall. Adam didn’t want what God wanted for him, he was like the toddler who only wanted his own way. But you and I answer to the New Adam, who is Christ. He did something that Adam simply could not do. The Lord Jesus made the will of God His only concern. Adam treated the life that was given to him by God as something that he could steal and use for his own purposes.

The Lord Jesus was given many chances to steal the life that was given to Him and to use it in whatever way He saw fit. He was tempted in the wilderness. He was nearly made king by the people after feeding them. He had the chance to run away before He was betrayed by Judas. He even had the ability to come off the cross and silence His many critics. But to do any one of those things would be to steal His life away for His own selfish purposes. We know that He did no such thing, but “in God’s will did He meditate day and night.”

The reason why saints change the world is really simple. They don’t think of their life as their own.

To call something yours when it is not really yours is to steal.

The saints follow Jesus Christ and understand that life is a gift from God to be used to achieve His purposes and not ours. Because the saints use their lives to achieve the Lord’s purposes, their lives are truly blessed and fruitful beyond their wildest expectations or dreams.

That is all fine in theory but in practice it is like working out and getting in shape when you haven’t done it in a while. It sounds good but it is really tough. It is challenging. It is time consuming. It requires a total change in focus. It also requires a decision. As with every part of the spiritual life, God is an invitation. He welcomes us to adopt His way and we are always free to accept it or reject it. True love is not forced, it flows freely. Part of being a Christian is to give our life back to God because we understand that it was a gift meant from God in the first place!

One of the ways you remove the illusion of your ownership and control of your life is by starting and ending each day with prayers of thanksgiving. Thank God for the gift of a sound mind, a loving family, a roof over your head, a coat to keep you warm. Thank God for the ability to save money and the ability to support others including the church. Thank God that He has spoken to us directly through the Lord Jesus and that He visits us each Sunday in this place. Thank God that we are truly lacking in nothing whatsoever. This is what the Lord Jesus did, this is what the saints do, and this is what we choose to do.

May the Lord help and encourage each of us to freely give of ourselves and our lives because we are thankful and because we love for Him.

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