July 16, 2007

Using What You Have

Isaiah 58:1-10

"You shall not steal." Exodus 20:15


I do not have the right to take something that belongs to you. If I do, that's stealing. Every law code in history protects property, condemns theft, and provides for damages. People everywhere recognize that stealing undercuts human relationships.

So robbing a bank, shoplifting, and unauthorized use of someone's credit card number are out--even if the other person can afford to lose the money or may not miss it. Taking cutlery from a restaurant, linen from a hotel, or supplies from the office are also stealing. So are padding expense accounts, falsifying income-tax figures, and laundering insurance claims.

But stealing not only undercuts our relationship with our neighbor. It also harms our relationship with God. Isaiah 58 states that I may value my private property and enjoy the things I have worked for, but in the end, they are not just mine. They belong to God, who calls me to use what I have as a steward. If what I have is on trust from God, I must be content with what God places in my hands, and I must use my belongings for the sake of his kingdom, not simply for my family or myself.

That says something about what I give to the work of the Lord and how I use what I have to help people in need. When I already have enough for myself, I need to ask what I should be using or giving to help others.

Thank you, Lord, for good gifts I enjoy. If I have what belongs to others, or if I have become insensitive to being a faithful steward, please press that on my heart. Amen.

About the author — Henry Kranenburg

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