The Eighth Command: The Generous Life

The Generosity of God Seen in Salvation

“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15 ESV)

The generosity of God is most evident to us in salvation:

  • “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
  • “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:4-8)

Both of these emphasize the generosity of God to us through Jesus. The gospel is the exact opposite of stealing. Not only does God not steal, he gives to the undeserving. Jesus gave by emptying himself of the glorious privileges that were his as God. This includes his humiliation in becoming human. Not only did God become one of us, but he gave his very life for us. Romans 8:32 says, “[God] did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all.”

The picture at Golgotha is so very poignant to the eighth command. There were three crucified on crosses. The one in the middle was Jesus. What crime had those on this right and left committed? They were thieves. We don’t know what they took but they must have defrauded in a substantial way to be sentenced to death for doing so. On the right, was a thief; a taker. On the left was a thief; a taker. In the middle is the one who created everything and owns everything, yet on the middle cross is the greatest giver of all time. Two takers and one giver.

This is love. Hate robs and steals. Love is not simply the absence of taking but the presence of self-giving. Remember, every negative command has a corresponding positive one. When is a thief no longer a thief? “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28 NIV)

When is a thief no longer a thief? Not simply when he doesn’t shoplift or cheat on his taxes but when the taker becomes a giver. Not only does he stop taking what others have, but he isn’t selfish with what he does have. In this we reflect the very character of God, not as a taker but as a giver.

We are all thieves and robbers. We rob God of his glory every day. We take. We scheme. We rob God of his right as our Creator to rule our lives. We live for money and things and lie and cheat to get them. We steal from him in some way every day. Yet in the midst of our stealing from him, he gives grace to us. He gives and he gives and he gives. Thieves can be saved if they will believe and turn from their sin. Exhibit A is the thief on the cross:

“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” (Luke 23:39-43 ESV)

The eighth command, like all the others, condemns us. But thieves can be saved by the lavish generosity of our self-giving God in Christ, if you will believe. Beware: God turns takers into givers.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Additional Scripture quotations taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

© 2014 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

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