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New City Catechism 11.3

Question 11: What does God require in the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments?

Answer: Sixth, that we do not hurt, or hate, or be hostile to our neighbor, but be patient and peaceful, pursuing even our enemies with love. Seventh, that we abstain from sexual immorality and live purely and faithfully, whether in marriage or in single life, avoiding all impure actions, looks, words, thoughts, or desires, and whatever might lead to them. Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit.

The eighth commandment prohibits stealing (Exod. 20:15; Deut. 5:19), which obligates us to respect the property of others and the right they have to possess it. The catechism rightly teaches us to do the opposite of stealing by actively seeking to provide good things for others. This teaching falls right in line with what Paul says in Ephesians 4:28: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” Notice the progression:

(1) Do not take from others.

(2) Instead, do honest work with your own hands to earn money fairly.

(3) And don’t earn the money just for yourself and your own household, but also so that you can bless others by sharing with the needy.

A transition from taking, to producing, to giving is an imperative that arises from the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a Savior who turns thieves into benefactors. As he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Instead of stealing, work diligently to earn what you need for your household. And have a plan in your budget to give away the first portion of all that you bring in as a token of your gratitude to God and your acknowledgement that it is all belongs to him. “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1).

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Luke 19:1-10. How did Zacchaeus become rich (see especially verse 8)? What kind of man was Zacchaeus by the end of this story? What made the difference in him? How is he an example to us? What is the meaning of verse 10?

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