November 8, 2020
THE HIGH COST OF THEFT
Unit 1: The Ten Commandments
EXODUS 20:15; 22:1-4; EPHESIANS 4:28
Connect to My Experience
·How do we measure justice? By punishment or by restoration of both victim and perpetrator?
·Should punishment for crime be a one-size-fits-all? What role should mercy play in dealing with criminal behavior?
·Does the church have a part to play in justice, or is this an issue best left to the state? Explain.
Connect to the Word
Read Exodus 20:15.
God invites the people to be a holy people whose entire lives are marked by love for God and love for others.
·Without meaning to, we sometimes consider our “stuff” as unrelated to our relationship to God and others. What does the inclusion of this command communicate about the role of “stuff” in holy living?
This is a command couched within the context of God’s repeated instruction to the community to care for the poor, needy, and weak.
·How do the commands concerning care for the poor relate to the commandment against stealing?
·While poverty does not excuse stealing, how might a disregard for the poor contribute to the problem of theft?
Read Exodus 22:1-4.
The intention of the examples in this passage are not to establish a one-size-fits-all system of consequences, but rather to institute a pattern for practicing justice based on the nature of the crime.
·What do these “examples” reveal about God’s heart for justice?
·What is the difference between retribution and justice?
·How does this passage guide us in practicing justice instead of seeking retribution?
Among the people of God, restoration for all parties took precedence over punishment for the sake of punishment.
·Does our society exemplify this value? Why or why not?
·Does the church embody this kingdom value? What might that look like practically?
·Laws exist for a reason, and breaking those laws has consequences for those who violate them. However, as an advocate for all life, how might the church be a voice for mercy, restoration, and rehabilitation?
Read Ephesians 4:28.
As followers of Jesus seeking to embody the kingdom of God on earth, Paul instructs his readers to abandon their old way of life, which was marked by theft, selfishness, and looking out for No. 1.
·What practices and habits persist in our lives as remnants of a life lived in service to self?
·What practices help us develop a lifestyle that helps us do something useful?
Paul encourages followers of Jesus to work as they are able, not merely to provide for themselves, but to contribute to the needs of the body.
·We might not need to repent of thievery, but how might we need to repent of a self-oriented mindset?
·How can we reject culturally-affirmed self-serving practices and instead embrace the others-oriented lifestyle of Jesus?
Connect to My Life and the World
John Wesley affirmed this others-oriented posture toward our possessions and earnings by stating simply: Work all you can, save all you can, give all you can.
·Immersed as we are in a culture that promotes idolatrous self-sufficiency and affirms keeping what you have for yourself, how can we practice Wesley’s maxim?
·How can we encourage one another to reject self-seeking behavior and spur one another on toward an others-oriented lifestyle?
Stealing does not necessarily require breaking into someone’s home and taking their possessions.
·How do subtle dishonest practices sometimes work their way into our lives?
·What are some practical ways we can practice godly integrity and honesty in every facet of our lives?