“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)
This commandment is abundantly clear: we are not allowed to take anything that does not belong to us. Instead, we should try our best to earn our own living. And even more, to support people in need, so that they don’t have to steal in order to survive!
This commandment makes clear that God does not support “the survival of the fittest”. He does not allow us to exploit others, but tells us: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).
This commandment is not just about literally snatching things that belong to others. It also includes fraudulent trade, tax fraud or our involvement in economical systems of exploitation. It is not okay to misuse our social position or wealth to oppress other people, for example by underpaying them for their labor. The prophet Jeremiah warns
his people: “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages” (Jeremiah 22:13)
Do you feel exploited by others? Or are you part of an unjust economic system?