In addition to order, life, and spouse and family, God also gives to you everything else. Jesus even teaches us to pray for this everything else when He teaches us to pray, “Gives us this day our daily bread.”
As the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer indicated, our chief duty as God’s redeemed Children is not to give or offer something to God, but to receive from God His good things – to receive rescue from sin and death in Jesus His Son… and to receive with thanksgiving His daily bread gifts.
My Neighbor’s Daily Bread
When a property owner puts up a fence, he means to guard his “daily bread” – the property and goods God has gifted him – from his neighbor. And a fence can certainly assist in that regard. The curious thing about a fence, however, is that it doesn’t only keep a “thieving” passerby out. It keeps me in – in my daily bread and not encroaching on my neighbors. That God includes in His Fence a prohibition of stealing is an indictment not only on one who would “thieve” our daily bread. It’s an indictment on us, dear Christians.
And it turns out the problem is far more pervasive than at ﬁrst glance. When we hear “steal,” our mind’s eye easily projects the black-masked man holding up the corner store and making off with the cash or a team of skilled thieves overriding the layers of a bank security system to take the vault’s gold and stacks of cash.
But what if the swindling of “daily bread” were far nearer to home than these? What if it were prevalent in banking and real estate? What if it were a staple in retail exchanges and in the service industry? What if stealing made cover out of government and church budgets offerings? What if this craft of stealing were so pervasive that it even affected children as they trade or exchange petty playing cards? What if our fallen nature were so bent that it proves not only capable of stealing, but subtle and well-schooled in the “trade?”
Luther, in His Large Catechism, says this: “Thievery is the most common craft and the largest guild on earth… mankind, in all its conditions, is nothing but a vast, wide stable full of great thieves” (Tappert, 396).
That our civil record may be clean of any convictions of stealing is a far cry from us being “clean” in God’s sight. Our offenses are not only of the commission variety, but also omissions – our failures to help our neighbor improve and protect what God has gifted and is gifting them.
This most prevalent tragedy is only halted and the true good restored as the God who is, takes ﬂesh into Himself in order to be the Victim of thievery for you – for me. Jesus suffers the loss of throne, of status, of due honor, of good name, and ﬁnally of His very life. His rights and righteousness are stolen from Him, by design, so that they might be donated to you – so that you and I and all sinners might have in this grace of God the Bread of Life. For, when faith possesses this most unlikely of Gifts – God’s wealth stripped from Him and supplied to you – then our souls are satisﬁed with the Bread of Life – Jesus for us. Then our hearts and our hands are freed from our “natural craft” – the getting our neighbor’s bread. And as our souls are satisﬁed with the Bread of Life, then our bodies are instead animated in the noble work of helping our neighbor to improve and protect that daily bread which our gracious Lord has gifted to them in love. May our Lord, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift, persist in ﬁlling us with the Bread of Life so that our lives might be spent serving our neighbors in keeping and improving their daily bread.
The Seventh Commandment
You shall not steal.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or goods, nor get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his goods and means of making a living.
Rev. Kyle Madson
Editor, The Lutheran Sentinel
Norseland Lutheran Church
St. Peter, MN
Norwegian Grove Lutheran Church