2nd Tuesday in Lent
You are not to steal
What is this? Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbors’ money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.
We are forbidden to do our neighbors any injury or wrong in any way imaginable, whether by damaging, withholding, or interfering with their possessions and property. We are not even to consent to or permit such a thing but are rather to avert and prevent it. In addition, we are commanded to promote and further our neighbors’ interests, and when they suffer any want, we are to help, share, and lend to both friends and foes. Anyone who seeks and desires good works will find here more than enough things to do that are heartily acceptable and pleasing to God.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust consumes and where the thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
SILENCE FOR MEDITATION
Martin Luther tells us: We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbor’s money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.
10The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity. Ecclesiastes 5:10
Luther apparently felt stealing to be a major issue in his time as he goes on to say further in his Large Catechism, “If we look at mankind in all its conditions, it is nothing but a vast, wide stable full of great thieves”. He seemed to be especially aggrieved by the businessmen and those of higher station in society who stole by trickery and dishonest dealings yet put on the façade of respectability and class. I fear if Luther were dropped into the middle of New York City or Boston or Westborough tomorrow he would conclude the world has changed little since his day.
Why do we steal then? Like the passage from Ecclesiastes says, this also is vanity. When we value ourselves above our neighbor, then don’t we deserve the things he has more than he does? So why not just take them? Everybody does it, right? That same passage also tells us that we will not be satisfied with gain. There is always more to gain and once obtained there is the constant fear of loss and the struggle to keep what was gained. This is not the path to peace or to a joyful life.
Heavenly Father teach us to subdue our egos. Help us to realize we are each only one person among billions of people and we are all of equal value in your eyes. Lead us to understand that the only thing of real value in the world can never be stolen but only given and received freely and that is Love. Amen
Put a coin in your bank for each time you eat a smaller portion of food today.