Eight

There was only one man I feared in my hometown when I was a boy: John, the owner of the drug store where my mom worked. For a number of reasons, I tried hard to fly under the radar when John was around. He was a good guy, but his intimidation factor was high for this little guy.

When I was 4 or 5, I stole a 3 cent Dum Dum from that man's store. When my mom got in the car, she knew the sucker I was enjoying was not an honest acquisition, and I was busted. Doing what any good mother would do, she marched me into the store and straight back to the man I feared the most in the whole world. It was like I was walking the long, green mile to my executioner. There, at the feet of this towering man, I confessed my larceny and awaited his verdict which would seal the fate of my young life. I don't recall what happened afterward, but I know I never pilfered another Dum Dum in all my life.

Stealing is a big deal -- big enough to make it into the top 10 commandments from God. Stealing is a spiritual problem with tragic outcomes. Why? Because it is so opposite of who God is! Our series "10" has been looking at the 10 Commandments to discover more about the heart and character of God. We don't murder because God is a life-giver. We don't commit adultery because God is faithful. And we don't steal because God is a giver.

When we mirror His image, we also take on the nature of a giver as His Spirit cultivates generosity in the heart of His children who reflect His image. The problem with stealing is it positions us in life to be takers, to get from others what isn't rightfully ours. We begin to utilize others for our own personal gain at any cost. This is opposite of the heart of God.

Our lives should reflect God's generosity. Are our lives being lived in pursuit of what we can get, or are we living in a way that gives richly to others? How is my life a benefit to others? What am I contributing to enhance life and build up others? How am I cultivating generosity in my time, my abundance, my words, and my gifts? Am I hoarding or helping? Am I taking or giving?

The New Testament has a lot to say on the subject [Matthew 6:2-4; Matthew 6:19-24; Ephesians 4:28; Luke 3:11; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Acts 20:35].

God is a giver. He can't help but give, and we don't need to look any further than Jesus.

Let's do the same.