We recently spent a fair bit of money on security screens. This wasn’t so much for the security aspect of them (even though that’s handy to have), we just wanted to replace our ageing fly screens and security gates as they were becoming quite damaged from years of sunlight and we wanted something that our enthusiastic cats couldn’t damage.
It did, however, get me thinking of my childhood growing up in South Africa. I remember quite clearly everything that was done to my home to ensure our safety. We had 6-foot high walls that surrounded the property. A front gate with a chain and lock; our house also had big thick security gates on each door leading into or out of the house.
We had an alarm system with panic buttons strategically placed all around the house. Our windows had big burglar bars that no one was getting through. When we went to sleep at night, my dad would lock a big security gate that sectioned off the bedrooms from the rest of the house. All to keep us and our possessions safe from those who would try and take them from us.
Theft and other criminal activity is big business for the security and insurance industries. Even now in Australia people are going the route of buying security systems, security screens and security doors to ensure the safety of their possessions. Insurance companies are making a killing on our monthly premiums, we take these out just in case someone does break in and takes our possessions.
What if it didn’t have to be this way? What if we didn’t have to spend our hard-earned money on security and contents insurance? What if we lived in a world where no one actually stole from each other? What if people followed the eighth commandment:
“Thou shall not steal.” (Exodus chapter 20, verse 15)
The 10 Commandments
To understand the 10 commandments and the freedom it brought the Israelites and how they apply to us today, we have to understand their history. For generations they were enslaved by the Egyptians. Their men were murdered, their women were raped, their children and possessions stolen from them. Many were born into slavery and many died as slaves. Families torn apart, a culture almost destroyed. When Moses eventually lead his people to freedom and God gave them the 10 commandments, they were amazed at the potential their new lives could bring.
Imagine for a moment you are an Israelite: you have just come out of Egypt, everything you ever owned was stolen from you, and Moses gives the command from God, “Thou shall not steal.” Imagine the surprise, imagine the elation you would feel. You mean I don’t have to worry about my possessions being stolen? I can now live in peace knowing that my stuff is safe? Praise God!
Imagine you are now an Israelite widow: you witnessed the brutal murder of your husband before you were set free, and Moses gives the command, “Thou shall not murder.” While you will grieve the death of your loved one for as long as you are alive, you will feel relief knowing the rest of your family will be spared from such an awful fate. Praise God!
Imagine you are an Israelite husband: before your freedom your wife had been raped and beaten by your captors, and Moses gives the command, “Thou shall not commit adultery.” You mean my daughters will be safe from being raped? They won’t have to suffer the injustice their mother did? Praise God!
So what about stealing?
I hope the three examples above give you an idea of the potential following the 10 commandments could bring society. The primary focus of this article is to introduce the series I am writing and today we are mainly talking about “Thou shall not steal.” If people abide by this one rule, these are the things that could potentially happen:
- No more break ins
- No more car high jackings
- No more phone and internet scams
- No more kidnappings
- No more pick pockets
- No more ATM skimming devises
- No more muggings
- No more armed hold ups
People could just trust one another and we wouldn’t have to live in fear of our safety and security being compromised. The thing is, this paints a picture of a perfect utopia, one where we assume people steal for all the same reason. The truth of the matter is it’s far more complex. Humans commit theft or steal for many different reasons:
These reasons are a symptom of a greater issue with the world today. While they exist because of sin and the fallen nature of our world, they also exist because we do not love our neighbours as we do ourselves. Simply following one commandment will not fix society, it will not cause crime to just disappear.
It’s just a book of rules
While growing up as a young Christian my class mates and my peers would always say to me that the Bible was just a book of rules, trying to take the fun out of life. I would never hold that against them, as they didn’t understand. People think that when there are no rules there is true freedom, freedom to do what I want and when I want. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In order to flourish as a society we need structure, we need order, and we need rules.
Not rules that constrain us, but rather rules that will help us feel safe; rules that will put us at peace; rules that will give us a framework for what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
While stopping our tendency to steal will help take society in a better direction, we have to consider the other commandments and how they apply to a fruitful and ultimately beneficial society. It will take many steps to correct the wrong we as humans have caused against each other, and while we may not be able to change the world, we can certainly change our families and communities.
We are all guilty of breaking the ten commandments, that’s why we need Jesus and a new perspective.
Jarred is an HPE and Mathematics teacher on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. He is married to Haley and has three beautiful children Chelsea, Nathan and Ryan.
Jarred is an HPE and Mathematics teacher on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, he is married to Haley and has three beautiful children Chelsea, Nathan and Ryan.