I bet you know the drill by now – the eighth commandment is part of the Second Table of the Law. And what do all the Second Table commandments point to? The Second Great Commandment, which teaches us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In Exodus 20:15, God commands us, “You shall not steal.”
The eighth commandment teaches us “to be honest and not to take the things of others.” That answer might seem a little strange. When we think of the word “honest,” we normally think about telling the truth. Did this answer get put in the wrong place? Was it supposed to go with the ninth commandment, the one about lying? What does honesty have to do with God’s command to not steal?
To be honest means much more than being someone who tells the truth. It comes from the word “honor.” That makes sense – they both begin with the same letters! An honest person is someone who behaves honorably. They are someone you would trust to keep your stuff safe, not steal it.
If your grandma gave you a $20 bill for your birthday and you left it lying out on a table, an honest person wouldn’t take it. In fact, they’d probably tell you to put it in a safe place before someone else steals it! That’s exactly the kind of people God wants us to be – honest people who don’t take what doesn’t belong to them.
In Exodus 23:4, God gives an example of what an honest person looks like. “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it.” As his children, God doesn’t want us to live by the law of Finders Keepers. If we find something that doesn’t belong to us, we shouldn’t be like, “Oh, it’s my lucky day!” No, we should do what we would want others to do in that situation. If you left your favorite stuffed animal at the park, would you want the person who found it to follow the rules of Finders Keepers? No, you’d want them to track you down and give your stuffed friend back to you!
God wants more from his people than just to not be sticky-fingered thieves. In Ephesians 4:28, we learn, “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.” Instead of being grabbers and takers, God wants us to be givers and sharers. God desires his children to be honest, hard-working people who share our belongings with those in need. The eighth commandment is more than just “Do not steal;” it’s also “Do share.”