In honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation this October, we will be studying the three major parts of the Catechism for the next three months. All children and youth will receive their own copy of Luther’s Small Catechism: Study Edition, and adults may purchase them for themselves through the church. May God bless our time of study as we return to our Lutheran roots during this Pentecost fall season of growth!
The Seventh Commandment: You shall not steal.
What does this mean?
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. (Luther’s Small Catechism: Study Edition pg. 21)
Devotional Questions from the ELCA’s Book of Faith Initiative:
What scares, confuses, or challenges me about this commandment and its meaning? What do I have questions about?
This is a tough commandment for most of us, because most of us have never outright stolen much of anything at all. We think, therefore, that the commandment doesn’t apply to us. However, Martin Luther, as he always does so well, refuses to let us wiggle out from under this commandment by intensifying it to the point that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Have you ever bought the cheapest thing simply because it was cheap? Did you stop to think about what the person who made it will get for their labor? Will it be fair, just, right? Have you ever complained about what a neighbor’s property looked like? Did you ever offer to help them to improve or protect it with the sweat of your own brow? This commandment and its meaning can go from simple to challenging, indeed!
What delights me about this commandment and its meaning? What do I like about it?
I appreciate that this commandment and its meaning call us to work together for the good of all. It warmed my heart last week to see the number of people who showed up to help out at Fall Clean Up Day at St. Peter. All of the members working together, accomplished so much more than what a few council members could have done on the same day, and the property of the church was both improved and protected by the effort. This is what happens when we take this commandment seriously, and work together to live into it fully.
What stories or memories does this commandment and its meaning stir up in me? You might remember a time when you helped a neighbor or a neighbor helped you, for example.
One of my favorite things about living where we do in South Central Nebraska is the sense of community that exists here. When someone is need of help, everyone bands together to do it. If there are medical bills to be paid, there is a benefit to pay it. If someone loses their home to fire, the community bands together to rebuild. If someone is ill, the crops do not lay in the field, they are harvested by generous laborers who make the time to be a good neighbor. I am truly thankful for all the good neighbors that care for our children, who will drop everything when we are in need. We live this commandment together, every day.
What is God up to in this commandment and its meaning? What is God calling you to do or to be because of this?
I believe that God is calling us to be generous with one another. God is calling us to remember that all we have comes from God, and belongs to God, and that we are simply stewards of all of God’s good gifts. How is God calling me to be generous to my neighbors in need? How is God calling you?
I am looking forward to learning more from you as we study this commandment together over the course of the month.