Monday, December 8, 2008

"You Joyfully Accepted the Plundering of Your Property!"


1) Heidelberg Catechism

The Seventh Commandment

You shall not steal.

111 Q. What does God require of you in this commandment?

A. That I do whatever I can for my neighbor's good, that I treat others as I would
like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need.

2) Scripture

Psalm 37:3: Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

John 15:4: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Deuteronomy 4:21b: . . . the good land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

1 Peter 1:3-4: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.

Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Hebrews 10: 32-35: But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.


Our approach this week to the eighth commandment has been that until we make Jesus Christ our greatest treasure it will be impossible to keep this commandment as we ought. If Jesus Christ is not our greatest treasure it will difficult to rightly handle the treasures of this world. If our trust is not in the Lord, it will be hard not to put our trust in earthly riches.

The Christians in the book of Hebrews were “enlightened” meaning that they were converted to Christ. They were born from above. The Holy Spirit now dwelled in their hearts. Their treasure was no longer on earth. Jesus Christ, in heaven, was their great treasure. So when their earthly property was taken away (stolen) because of their Christian testimony, they joyfully accepted it. They considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ and be conformed to Christ’s image, who suffered many things in this dark world.

In the Old Testament the land was given to the people as their inheritance. They received this inheritance by faith for it was a gift. In a similar way, Christians have received an inheritance by faith too, but it is a heavenly inheritance. It is a place where Christ dwells --- a place that is abiding and beyond the reach of foreign invaders, moths, rust, or thieves. It is a far better and more lasting inheritance than any earthly property.

In the Old Testament, the Lord continued to own the land he gave to Israel. Each man possessed his inheritance, but he was to enjoy and use his land while trusting and serving the Lord. Now in the New Testament the land has been Christified so that now we dwell in Christ, enjoying and cultivating a relationship with him. As good stewards of the gifts he still owns, but gives to us, we are to faithfully serve and glorify our Lord with our gifts, possessions, and money.

How would we react, if like the Hebrew Christians, our property was taken away because of our faith in Christ? Could we accept such a loss joyfully because we knew we had a better, more lasting possession in Jesus Christ and our heavenly inheritance?

Just as the sixth commandment deals with our attitude toward life, and the seventh toward sex and marriage, so the eighth commandment deals with our attitude toward possessions. It challenges us to have no other “gods” before the Lord, including the false and temporal gods of money and possessions. It calls to trust and love the Lord Jesus Christ as our sovereign provider and most precious treasure.

Discussion: Why did the Hebrew Christians joyfully accept their mistreatment? How were the Hebrew Christians imitating Jesus Christ by their mistreatment? Psalm 115 says that we become like whatever we worship---if we worship blind, deaf, and dumb things like idols or money we become as spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb as the things we worship. How does this principle affect the spiritual sight or insight of the Hebrew Christians, who worshiped the living, resurrected Christ? How has the Old Testament land been Christified?

Prayer Starter: Ask the Father for the gift of the Spirit to worship in Spirit and truth, for the transformation of your spiritual sight, hearing, and speaking. Ask for the Spirit’s illumination each time you listen, read, study, or meditate on God’s Word.

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