Not so long ago a father learned that his beloved son had some pencils in his drawer which did not belong to him. Upon questioning the youthful lad, he was saddened to learn that these had been taken by him from the large super-market store. Now the amount stolen was very minimal. Inventory would hardly have indicated that there was something missing. But in the conscience of this lad there was something written—indelibly. He had played the part of a thief! In this case, the father took the child back to the store, notwithstanding his crying and anguish and had him hand the pencils to the manager of the store. The little lad apologized with tears and shame!
Now, do not condemn this father! He did not spare the rod; he corrected his son while there was hope and did not heed his crying, Prov. 19:18. There was another boy whose father did not correct him, nor did he instruct him in the great truth that God’s people are redeemed from sin, also from the sin of stealing! This father evidently forgot the rod. But he had money to send him to college to obtain an education, to be versed in the humanities. But the fear of the LORD which is the beginning of wisdom was not taught him and he was not instructed in the commandments of the Lord, as these are not an old commandment, but a new commandment because of the New Testament in Christ’s blood! This boy was indeed educated as far as the world goes, but he had not been disciplined to shun the unfruitful works of darkness! He did not steal pencils merely; he stole more dear things such as electric razors, transistor radios and the like. He did this in a small city with four to eight Reformed Church towers pointing toward heaven and God. But church towers fail where the first principles of the Word are not taught as the way of gratitude, the way of those who have been redeemed from sin and who must walk in the second part of the Covenant of grace!
It is ever a timely subject to preach on the eighth commandment of the Decalogue “Thou shalt not steal”! On a recent church bulletin we wrote the following observation, which we here pass on for what it is worth to you:
“Really we have an important and timely subject in this sermon. We will be talking about that bad word: stealing. It refers to what is done in stealth because those doing it sin and, therefore, cannot do so openly. Then, too, they might be caught at it. And they nearly always are! May I ask you a few questions? I mean will you seriously try to find the answer in the B-I-B-L-E? These questions are:
a. Why do men steal? Is the reason outside of a man or inside of him? Do external conditions make a thief or does a man’s desire make him one. Don’t confuse occasion and cause!! Matt. 15:19.
b. Does the B-I-B-L-E teach that “kleptomania” is a sickness; that it is a sickness like a child having measles? Or is it perverted desires coming forth from a sinful and depraved heart and from an evil and corrupt will in bondage, which does not desire to do the will of God? No, do not give the answer of modern psychologists and psychiatrists. These cannot and may not speak in the forum of God. Nor may they speak in the pulpit of the true prophets who speak the Word of God. The Bible teaches that Judas Iscariot was a thief; he was not “sick” but he was downright sinful, John 12:6. Thieves do not enter the Kingdom of heaven—unless converted to God! Then, they are no longer thieves, but honest men, stewards of God in Christ Jesus. Only such are honest men, truly sincere before the face of God, wholly separated from evil, I Cor. 6:10; I Peter 4:15.
c. Why is stealing rooted in covetousness? Covetousness is essentially idolatry. It is worshipping the god, Mammon, is it not? Where is your treasure? Matt. 6:19-24; Col. 3:5. Did it ever occur to you that your “free enterprise” might be camouflaged idolatry?
d. Do we steal from God? His time, His honor, His glory? But do we get away with loot?
e. Is “Communism” the same as love of Christ in our hearts which has learned to give to those who have need? Or is it still nothing but organized “greed” of fallen man? Stealing on a national and international scale?!”
When the great apostle Paul has admonished the church at Ephesus to walk as they have learned Christ, to put off the old man and to put on the new man, which is created after God in true righteousness, holiness and truth, he then begins to give a few particulars from the law of God. Among other exhortations he writes the following words, which we may well memorize and let them sink deep into our hearts. These words read, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” Eph. 4:28.
Since we are Christians and you are Christian youth, born again in Christ, your new name is not that of thieves; it is that you are stewards in Christ Jesus. May I ask you to take your Bible (what nonsense to ask this question!!) and notice the following;
In the first place, that the Scriptures are rather replete with notices concerning the idea of stewardship both respecting this stewardship among men and as there is a stewardship which is ours toward God. Thus in Gen. 43:19, a steward is a “man who is set over” the affairs of another. In Gen. 44:4 such a steward is called one who is “over a house”, while Abraham calls the old Eliezar a steward, that is, a “son of acquisition”, while Solomon’s princes over his affairs are denominated stewards, since they too have been set over the king’s affairs in his house and extended kingdom. In the New Testament Scriptures a steward is called one “to whom a thing is committed” (Matt. 20:8; Luke 8:3) and also a steward is one who is a “house manager” for another (Luke 16:2-4). And Paul speaks of the ministers of Christ as being stewards of the mysteries of God.
In the second place, notice that there are four elements which are noteworthy and ought to be carefully observed in our life. The first of these realities is that no steward is ever a steward by his own private self-appointment. A man is appointed steward by another. Thus it is ever among men. Thus it was with Joseph in the house of Potiphar and with Eliezar in the house of Abraham. And, again, thus it was with the steward in the parable of Christ in Luke 16:1 f. f. And, we may add, that thus it was with the stewardship of Adam in the first Paradise, prior to the Fall! God said to him “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over every living thing that moveth upon the face of the earth”, Gen. 1:28. The second element in all stewardship is that it is required and sought in a steward to be found faithful, I Cor. 4:2. The third element is that a steward must never act the part of owner, but must give account of his stewardship and work solely for the interest from whom he has received his stewardship. And, lastly, let it be observed, that if a steward is unfaithful he can be removed from his stewardship. It is taken from him and given to another who is worthy.
In the third place, we should notice that natural man no longer is a steward, but is a thief. The whole world lies in darkness. Man was driven from the earthly Paradise of God. He was removed from his stewardship. That Adam remained steward is only because now he is steward in hope in Christ. He subdues all things under him. He fulfills the so-called “Common Mandate” and in Him we see that it is a very special Mandate which was given to Adam as image-bearer and which now we have again as image-bearers of God in Christ, as sons of the living God.
See your calling, young people! You are stewards of God, having been brought forth by the word of truth. Now you are some first-fruits of the creation of God. James 1:18. Although this is not limited to your life in the church-institute, it also includes such callings as ministers, elders, deacons, teachers, fathers and mothers.
Pray that you be as faithful in this your office and calling here as are the angels in heaven are in theirs!