April 24, 2022


10 Healthy Habits for Building Strong Families ❧ Part 13

Exodus 20:15 “You shall not steal.”

This morning we’re going to jump back into our series 10 Healthy Habits for Building Strong Families.  It would hardly be a stretch to say that no other single document has changed the world for the better than God’s Ten Commandments.  Nothing in all the world’s collective moral literature even begins to compare.  Old Testament scholar Dennis Prager refers to them as the foundation stones of Western civilization.He goes on to say, Western civilization – the civilization that developed universal human rights, created women’s equality, ended slavery, created parliamentary democracy among other unique achievements – would not have developed without them… Each commandment is a moral tour de force. Together, they present the most compelling plan ever devised for a better life and good world(Dennis Prager, TTC, p. xiii, xvii).  But God did not give us His commandments merely to serve as the foundation stones of better life and a good world.  God’s commandments reveal our inseparable need for God.  Without God, life doesn’t make sense. 

There is a relationship which makes our lives complete. Without that relationship, there is a void, a vacuum in life. Many people, even those who are well-known, can attest to that void.  For example, H. G. Wells, famous historian and philosopher, said at age 61: I have no peace. All life is at the end of the tether. The poet Byron said, My days are in yellow leaf, the flowers and fruits of life are gone, the worm and the canker, and the grief are mine alone. The literary genius Thoreau said, Most men live lives of quiet desperation. Ralph Barton, the famous cartoonist in the early 1900’s, left this note pinned to his pillow before taking his own life: I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from wife to wife, from house to house, visited great countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up twenty-four hours of the day.

This morning we’re going to look at Trusting God to Meet Your Needs.  One of the most important truths we can give our children is to understand that only God can satisfy your deepest needs. In the eighth commandment God says it this way, You shall not steal (Exodus 20:15, NAS). It has been said that all the commandments are contained in these four words.  How are all the other commandments contained in the words You shall not steal? God says we’re to have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3).  God made us in His image.  When we worship and serve another so called “god,” we rob ourselves of the true dignity and value God made us to have.  Idolatry, then robs us of our dignity and value. Murder is wrongly stealing another person’s life. Adultery is stealing another person’s spouse.  Bearing false witness (slander) against your neighbor robs them of their character.  Each one of God’s commandments could be wrapped up in this one command.  

There are three questions I want to answer from this commandment this morning: 1) Why do we steal? 2) What are some ways we steal (and don’t realize it)? 3) What is God’s answer to stealing? 

  1. Why do we steal? God tells us and shows us over and over in the Bible that He alone is our 

Provider, Sustainer, Protector.  He knows our needs before we are aware of them. He promises He will care for all our needs.  Our problem is not with God, but us.  We tend to doubt what we believe and believe what we doubt. Joshua 6 paints a poignant picture of this.  It is a story many of us are familiar with.  The first city God gave into the hands of Israel when they conquered the Promise Land was the highly fortified city of Jericho.  God instructs Israel to silently march around the walls of Jericho once a day for six days.  On the seventh, they are to circle the city seven times.  On the seventh loop, the priests were to blow their horns and the people shout.  At that moment, God collapsed the walls of Jericho inward.  

On final morning, Joshua instructed his troops they were not to take any of the spoils from the city for they were, holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord (Josh. 6:19).  Everything went smooth except for one glitch – Achan, whose name means “trouble.”  How would you like to have a name like that?  As the story goes, when Achan entered the city, he was overwhelmed what he saw – a wealth of gold, silver, designer label clothes.  There was so much of it, he must have thought God wouldn’t miss it if he kept just a little for himself (a beautiful cloak from Shinar that is Babylon, 200 shekels of silver, which is about five pounds, and a gold bar weighing about a pound.  Not much when you really think about it.  Everything went well. His plan to smuggle the goods back to his tent and bury it seemed to be working.  No one said a word.  Lightening didn’t strike.  Achan must have been feeling pretty good at this point.  

With the victory over Jericho, Joshua set his eye on the next town – Ai.  His scouts tell him taking Ai will be a piece of cake.  They don’t need the whole Israeli army, just a few thousand will do.  Things began to go from bad to worse the moment they attacked.  Soon, they were in full retreat leaving thirty-six dead soldiers behind.  This threw Joshua and the leaders into a tale-spin of despair. Joshua tore his robes and cried out to God asking why He had led Israel into the land of the Canaanites only to be killed.  He complains, If only we’d have been content to stay on the other side! (Josh 7:7). Have you ever felt that way about something God calls you to?  

God tells Joshua the reason for their disastrous defeat is because someone had stolen things God commanded them not to take.  Shortly after this, Achan is ferreted out.  Joshua tells Achan to explain what he did. So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them (Joshua 7:20-21).  Achan says he did three things: he saw, he coveted, and he took. Eve took the same tragic steps in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:6), David did the same thing with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:2–4). 

What was happening in Achan’s heart when he saw, coveted, and took? I think four things went through his mind: 1) Skepticism, 2) Satisfaction, 3) Security, and 4) Status.  

  1. SkepticismAchan doubted God’s word and he doubted God’s provision for him and his

family.  Like so many, Achan had a get-rich-quick plan.  His greed and deceit led to losing everything he so desperately wanted.  People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:9-10, NLT).

  1. SatisfactionAchan feared he would never be satisfied in life unless he had the cloak, the

silver, and the gold. Things that money can buy will never ultimately satisfy you.  Even if you had the whole world, you still wouldn’t be satisfied. You were made for more than this world. Sometimes we think a new truck, a new house, a new job, a new spouse will bring us the satisfaction we’re looking for. Wrong.  Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! (Eccl. 5:10).  Paul writes in 1 Timothy,Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). 

  1. Security. Achan believed these items would bring him financial security. For what will it profit a

man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26). When you attain wealth through dishonest gain, you’re never really free to live.  You’re trapped. As long as you hold onto the belief money will bring you security, you will remain under its illusive spell. Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life (Prov. 1:19, NLT).

  1. StatusAchan thought his stolen wealth would leverage his status in society.  He reasoned in

In his mind that he somehow deserved this wealth.  The problem was he couldn’t enjoy it because it was buried in the floor of his tent! This was like calling in sick and going fishing and catching a trophy fish. You’re in a catch twenty-two.  Who are you going to tell?  The moment you brag about it, you’re going have a lot of explaining to do!

Everything Achan hoped to attain was lost and worse. His sin not only brought about the deaths of thirty-six men, some of which may have been his own family.  It brought the heart wrenching loss of his own wife and children.  They’d conspired with Achan in burying the stolen items in the floor of their tent making them guilty as well.  They were stoned in what became known as the Valley of Achor, the valley of trouble.  

Had Achan only waited on God, all that he wanted and more would have been his.  When Israel finally took the city of Ai, God gave them all the spoils of the city. Israel took only the cattle and the spoil of that city as plunder for themselves, according to the word of the Lord which He had commanded Joshua (Joshua 8:27).  Achan’s sin is worse still in light of all that God had done for him and his family up to this point.  God had cared for him and his family in the wilderness, brought them safely across the Jordan river. Had he only waited on God. 

The lesson behind the eighth commandment is that God is not so much concerned about property as He is about our view of it.  Achan may have thought God was preventing him from getting what he wanted in life. Had Achan only remembered how God had greatly provided for them in the wilderness; had he only trusted God, he would have known otherwise. Jesus said, For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:32-33, NAS).  There are other ways we steal that we may no think about.   

  1. What are some ways we steal?   
    1. Theft: Taking what is not ours. How many of us have supplies or equipment from work at

home? I’m not talking about long-term borrowing.  The Bible calls is theft. You may not call it that, but it is. Like Achan, you may think it is so small it’s not important.  No one will miss it.  Others take things as well.  It’s still theft.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders (Matthew 15:19). 

  1. Slander: Defaming the character of another.  This is stealing a person’s good name.  The

difference between this kind of theft and stealing property is property can be replaced, money can be restored.  But when you steal a person’s name, it cannot be restored so easily.  The damage is often irreparable. A slanderer separates intimate friends (Proverbs 16:28). Who steals my purse, steals trash, wrote Shakespeare, but he that filches from me my good name…makes me poor indeed. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:31-32).  

  1. Stewardship: Misusing our time, talents, and treasures. People often think their lives are

their own, they do with them what they like.  In a sense, that is true.  We’re free to make choices, but we’re not free from the consequences.  Closer to the truth, your life is a stewardship.  All that you have is only yours for a short time.  Your time, talents, and treasures were given to you as a gift. What you do with them is what matters.  If you are a follower of Christ, the Bible says your life is not your own. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Cor. 6:19).  For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:7-8). You were bought with a price. Romans 14:12 says that we will have to give an account for our lives one day before God.  How we spent ou  Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do(Ecclesiastes 11:9, NLT). 

  1. What is God’s answer to stealing? Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content

in whatever circumstances I am (Philippians 4:11). Contentment is learned.  It’s learning that I can trust God to meet my needs whatever my circumstances.  Contentment is not laziness, or apathy, or complacency – a Kay-sara-sara attitude: whatever will be will be.  It’s independent from your circumstances.  It doesn’t come from the things or the people around you.  It comes from the choice to trust God to meet my needs no matter what.  How do you do that? Paul says he learned it.  If I could call contentment by another name, I would call it maturity.  It’s not instant.  It’s not a onetime experience.  It’s a life-long learning process of growing up spiritually and emotionally.  Maturity, by the way is not age.  Age is a fact.  Maturity is a choice.  Contentment comes with maturity not age. 

One of the people who’ve had a tremendous impact in my life for Christ was a widow by the name of Lydia Meier.  I’ve shared about her over the years on more than one occasion.  She well into her nineties when I first met her.  Every evening after supper, when the dishes were done, she would open up her old worn-out Bible and have evening devotions.  We would read a passage of Scripture and talk about what God was showing us in His Word.  This would often lead her to reflecting how God had met her family’s needs over the many years.  God provided many times in ways she could never have anticipated.  She told of a time during the Great Depression when they completely ran out of food.  She had no idea how she was going to feed her young family.  She prayed.  Not long after she did, the landlord of farm they were renting came by unexpectedly with a sack of potatoes.  He happened to have them and wondered if the Meier family could use them. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

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