Connect 360: Taking or Giving?

  |  Source: BaptistWay Press

Lesson 9 in the BaptistWay Press Connect 360 unit “Pillars” focuses on Exodus 20:15.

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  • Lesson 9 in the BaptistWay Press Connect 360 unit “Pillars” focuses on Exodus 20:15.

A church had experienced a recent theft of money from the financial office. Church members were stunned that someone would steal from the congregation. The pastor announced that he had learned the theft was not an isolated incident; other robberies in the church had taken place. The situation was complicated by the fact that these other thieves had been identified as members of the church, and some of them held positions of leadership. Should charges be pressed? Who was doing the stealing and who were they stealing from?

The pastor proclaimed Malachi 3:8–10 to the church: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

Many ways to steal

When one has images of stealing, they may think of a bank or convenience store holdup, a Wild West train robbery or insider stock trading. Some thieves may break into homes or cars, while identity thieves hack into computer networks to steal credit card information, bank accounts and Social Security numbers. “Don’t steal,” seems a simple enough of a commandment, one that all children are taught in kindergarten, “Don’t take what does not belong to you.”

The Apostle Paul, in instructing the Ephesians about the life worthy of the Christian, specifically mentioned stealing: “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). The Christian life is much more than just keeping the eighth commandment; to refrain from stealing is not enough.

The Bible takes it a step further and says we must be generous. Another kindergarten rule, that everybody is supposed to share with others, also would serve us well. Jesus taught and modeled that abundant life comes in giving oneself for others. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about going the extra mile, about giving to him who asks of you, about not turning away from him who wants to borrow from you. Jesus is concerned that we do not take from others but, more than that, he wants us to steward that which we hold to help the needy.

Possessions don’t satisfy. They will never bring fulfillment. Christ-followers who recognize all things belong to God are free to enjoy the treasures God allows them to use and give them away. Stealing produces bondage. Giving results in joy. We need to ask God to allow us to grow in our generosity.

Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.

To learn more about BaptistWay Press and the Connect360 Bible study series, or to order materials, click here.

 


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