Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Singing through the Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 42

Lord's Day 42

"The Eighth Commandment"
You shall not steal.

Q & A 110
Q. What does God forbid
in the eighth commandment?

A. He forbids not only outright theft and robbery,
punishable by law.
But in God's sight theft also includes
cheating and swindling our neighbor
by schemes made to appear legitimate,
such as:
inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume;
fraudulent merchandising;
counterfeit money;
excessive interest;
or any other means forbidden by God.

In addition he forbids all greed
and pointless squandering of his gifts.

Q & A 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.


According to Q&A 110, the eighth commandment “forbids all greed.” In Ephesians 5:5 and Colossians 3:5, greed is equated to idolatry. This shows us that in order to keep this commandment, or any of the commandments, we must have a right relationship with God. The Ten Commandments hang together. You cannot keep the command to love others, if you don’t love God. Generosity will be difficult for people who love money and possessions more than they love God. As Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Commenting on this verse above, Philip Ryken writes:

“The human heart was made to love God, who is infinite in all his perfections, and thus we have within us the capacity for a vast affection. We are designed to love the Supreme Being supremely. However, there is room in our hearts for one and only one predominating affection. There may be many things we love, but one of them must have the controlling influence, because our hearts were made to serve under the mastery of only one governing desire.”
Q&A 111 emphasizes the positive teaching of the eighth commandment, which is generosity. But generosity flows from a heart that is free from greed, because it loves the God who has been so gracious to us in Christ. Thus, God commends the generosity of the Macedonian Christians, who first gave their hearts in thanks to him, which gave them the desire and freedom to use their money for his glory and the good of others:

“For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us” (2 Cor. 8:3-5).
This eighth commandment, like all the commandments, shows us the moral glory and beauty of God. But as sinners we fall far short of his glory. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Jesus’ teaching on money, possessions, and generosity condemns us all. Only Jesus has kept the law that condemned the rich young ruler: “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor” (Luke 18:22), for only Jesus “for [our] sake . . . became poor, so that [we] by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9.

The good news of the gospel is that Christ’s obedience is now ours, including his freedom from greed, and his perfect love for God that resulted in the richest generosity toward us. By faith in Him, we are accepted. We are also lifted to heaven to share in the triune life and love. Thus we are freed from greed, so that we might be generous like our Lord.


The Eighth Command, You Shall Not Steal

To the tune: PUER NOBIS (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/CCEH/778). Based on the eighth commandment and Lord’s Day 42 of the Heidelberg Catechism (Related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 74-75). Words: William Weber, 2010.

v. 1
The eighth command, you shall not steal,
with all your neighbors fairly deal.
Do all you can to meet his need,
and keep your heart from selfish greed.

v. 2
Be honest in all that you do,
and live by Jesus’ golden rule:
Treat others as you’d like them to
treat you in all they say and do.

v. 3
The eighth command forbids all greed,
for Jesus came so we’d be freed.
In Christ we’re freed to trust and love,
not things of earth, but God above.

v. 4
The heart is where our treasure lay.
All earthly treasures pass away,
but there’s a treasure that will last,
His name is Jesus, hold Him fast.

v. 5
To You, O God, all glory due,
but sinful man did steal from You.
Your glory, honor did we take
in foolish pride usurp Your place.

v. 6
Let God be God, His place not take.
All idols in your heart forsake.
For idols vain will fade away,
but Christ our treasure now, always.

Our Lord lived free of selfish greed,
came down to earth to meet our need.
Though He was rich, for us made poor,
through faith in Him we are restored.

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