Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Biblical Definition of Stealing

I like to compile definitions of familiar terms from looking at the whole of Scripture.  I often find myself doing this when teaching the Bible through a translator.  I find that important often because the terms can have slightly different nuances of meaning from one language to another.  So, by looking at the whole Bible on a topic, I can be very clear about what I'm trying to say and don't have to worry as much about what is getting lost in translation.  Moreover, the process is actually very helpful to me as it invariably expands my own understanding of the term as well.

Today, I am working on a Bible study on the 8th command, "Do not steal" for our Nepali Sunday School program. I will be meeting tonight with our three Nepali Bible teachers, who are still relatively new believers and will be encountering this subject in the Bible for the first time.  So, I began my preparation by going through the whole of Scripture to seek out a full, Biblical definition of "stealing."  This way, I will not have to worry about how the Nepali term "चोराइ" relates to the English "steal".  I can instead focus on exactly what the Bible is speaking out against.  The following is the definition that I have arrived at:


To steal is to either dishonestly take what does not belong to you or to unjustly withhold what belongs to someone else.  This includes the property or wages of another, offerings to God, and even justice and compassion to the poor.  The Bible calls us to live in an opposite way, doing honest work, sharing what we have with those in need, and giving generously and cheerfully to God.
(Ex. 20:15, Gen. 31:30, Gen. 44:8, Lev. 6:1-5, Lev. 19:11-13, Mal. 3:7-10, Ps. 35:10, Pr. 22:16, 22-23, Isa. 10:1-2, Eph. 4:28)

Okay, back to study.  I know it is a bit random today.  But, thought I'd share anyway.  Be blessed in this new year!

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