Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Eighth Commandment of the Law of God
Thou shalt not steal.
There are many forms of stealing:
Theft, to steal someone else’s property.
Robbery, taking someone else’s property by force.
Sacrilege, to misuse that which belongs to the Church.
Extortion, or bribery, to unlawfully accept gifts from people for goods or services which are supposed to be rendered free of charge.
Parasitism, to accept renumeration or payment for services which are supposed to be rendered and then fail to do the work.
Usury, to charge an exorbitant rate of interest on a loan.
Fraud, to appropriate someone else’s property by cunning. For example, to avoid paying debts, to embezzle funds without regard for the proprietor’s things or money, to cheat in measuring or deceive in weighing for a sale; to hold back the wages of a hired worker; to take a sum of money for some needy person, and then keep it for something else, and so on. Also, children deceive when they are lazy students, while at the same time their parents and society pay for their education, and teachers expend labor on their behalf.
Forbidding every form of taking property of a neighbor, this commandment instructs us to be unmercenary, honest, industrious, merciful and truthful. In order to avoid sin against this commandment, one must love one’s neighbor as much as oneself, and not do anything to him that he would not like to have done to himself.
The highest virtue inspired by the eighth commandment is complete poverty, renunciation of all property. But God does not obligate everyone to this virtue. He proposes it only to those who wish to attain high moral perfection. If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven (Matt. 19:21).
Many spiritual heroes have followed the advice of this Gospel passage: St. Anthony the Great, St. Paul of Thebes, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, and many others.