1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Jesus has risen from the dead; and because Jesus is the firstfruits of those who believe, we know that we too shall rise from the dead. This mortal shall put on immortality – death has lost its sting. But not only does the resurrection give us hope for the future, it also gives us hope in the present. Jesus’ resurrection has broken not only the power of death but also the power of sin. For those who look to Christ in faith, He grants us, by the Spirit, His resurrection power so that we can overcome the sins that enslave us.
Today we consider theft. Paul tells us that thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God. A thief is someone who takes as his own that which belongs to another – whether possessions or ideas or relationships or credit. God is the Sovereign Lord – He is the Owner of all things. Everything in heaven and earth belongs to Him. Consequently, we are all stewards of what we possess. This has a number of implications.
First, because we are stewards, we will all give account to our Creator for how we use our possessions. We are to use that which He gives us – whether great or small – to the honor of His Name and the advancement of His kingdom. And we are to imitate His generosity with our own – being open-handed and generous, freely sharing with others. One day we will give account of our stewardship.
Consequently, second, we are called to pay tribute to God with our possesions. God claims the tithe as that which is His own – and to withhold the tithe is to steal from God. It is to act the thief – to take as our own that which belongs to God.
Finally, because God is the Owner of all things, He has the right to give things to whom He chooses. And when someone has lawfully obtained something by God’s gift, it is absolutely his own. He may give it away; he may use it to purchase something else; but it may not be taken from him without his consent. God commands, “You shall not steal.”
With this command, God establishes the glory and integrity of private property. God has given you and your neighbor the things you possess. And God wants each of us to look at the things that our neighbor has and to rejoice with him. But thieves don’t rejoice; thieves envy. Thieves think that what their neighbor has managed to acquire just isn’t fair. “He shouldn’t have that car, I should. He shouldn’t have that house, I should. He shouldn’t have that job, I should. He shouldn’t have that fame, I should.” This envy then gives rise to the act of theft.
So what of you? Do you rejoice with those who rejoice? Kids, do you rejoice when your sibling or your friend get a really neat toy? Or are you envious? Adults, do you rejoice with those who through ingenuity or hard work or frugality or inheritance have come to have more than you or something better than you? Or are you envious?
Reminded of our propensity to envy others and to steal from them rather than to rejoice and share with them, let us confess our sin to the Lord; and let us kneel as we confess our sins together.