“Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15). Thus God states in the 8th commandment that theft is wrong. But what is theft? All can agree that theft is taking something that does not belong to you. But what does ‘not belong to you’ mean?
Let us return to the question I stated in a previous letter. If a man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family is he guilty of theft? Because God allows no excuses, the answer is yes. But that is not the end of the story. Paul states “Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labor working with his own hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Eph.4:28). The biblical accumulation of wealth is to provide charity (preferably work if possible) to the needy so that they do not need to steal to survive.
Proverbs 13:11 states, “Wealth gotten by vanity (theft) shall be diminished (restitution made for): but he that gathereth by labor (work) shall increase (keep the profits thereof).” Thus the Bible makes it clear that gaining money, goods, or property by any means other then your own labor is theft. Resulting in the admonitions in the bible against usury (collecting interest) when lending to the poor – Lev. 25:35-38, not paying your workers what is due them – Lev. 19:13, workers not working to the best of their ability and being slothful – I Kings 20:39-40, unjust weights and measures – Lev. 19:35-36, the accumulation of excess wealth – Luke 12:16-20, non payment of taxes – Lev 27:30-34 and unjust taxes – Nehemiah 5:1-11 and many more.
In conclusion theft is taking anything that you have not earned or been freely given for any reason by anybody whether rich or poor, an individual or the government, by stealth force or fraud is theft.
(All quotes from the bible are from the King James Bible.)