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The Seventh Commandment

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The Seventh Commandment

Post by PastorDan on Wed Dec 07, 2016 2:29 pm

The Seventh Commandment:
You’ll not steal.


What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.


Kids today have an enormously more difficult time with the Seventh Commandment that we as parents did growing up. Why? Because the internet gives them “access” to the world of ideas and media like never before. Ask a teacher. Plagiarism in school reports has absolutely skyrocketed. Kids think nothing of using watermarked graphics in their school powerpoint presentations (and most teachers don’t even bother to discount their grade with they do!). There is a widespread belief that if you are able to access something on the internet, it should be free. Nice as that might sound, the creators of the images, music, and other files, who put time and effort into their creation and go to the trouble of copyrighting it, certainly do not agree with this.


To illustrate the universality of the Seventh Commandment, I asked one of our students if I could see his jacket. Once I thanked him, I took the jacket to my office and returned to my teaching. As his discomfort grew, I eventually asked him what might be troubling him. He then asked if he was going to get his jacket back. I let him know that since he had given me access to it, I thought it fair that I get to decide if I wanted to give it back or not. We then talked about the difference between “access” and “ownership”. Stealing is an abuse of access, and it is a violation of ownership.


God calls us not only not to take what belongs to others, but also to protect and in fact improve the possessions of others. We can best teach this to our children by keeping things personally connected to them. If our children are to learn not only to avoid taking things that do not belong to them (a true challenge for a toddler) but also to care especially for the possessions of others, then they need to see from their own perspective the value of taking such care of their own possessions.


One clever way to teach both the Seventh and Eighth Commandments together is to plan ahead for an object lesson. Take your child’s phone one evening after he has gone to bed. Then purchase a game for him… something he will like. But do not give the phone back to him yet. Eventually he will come to you and ask,
“Mom/Dad, where’s my phone?”
You simply say, “I took it.”
He will likely say, “Why?”
You say, “I saw it and wanted to use it. So I took it and now I have it.”
Hopefully he will accuse you of being rude, cruel, or unfair. This is your teaching moment to discuss why it is wrong to violate the Seventh Commandment. But you’re not done yet.
Next say, “I noticed you accused me of being cruel/unfair. But you assumed something about me that isn’t true. Here’s your phone back, check out the new game I bought for you. I hope you like it.”
Hopefully you will get a kind, “thank you.” But now it is time to teach the Eighth Commandment (and yes, you can read more about that in the Eighth Commandment page.)
You say, “You falsely accused me of cruelty and unfairness, when in reality I was busy doing something nice for you. Do you see how it would have been better for you to “put the best construction” on what I did? You should have assumed that since I am your mother/father and you know I love you, that if I took your phone it must surely have been for a loving reason.”


As you read more about the Eighth Commandment, you will see where you can take this conversation as you help your child learn how when we assume things about other people without having all of the information, we are keeping the 8th Commandment by assuming the best possible explanation rather than the worst.


If your child doesn’t have a phone, this same thing can work with his favorite jacket (which you take and have cleaned) or some other cherished thing that you take, but secretly upgrade its value.
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PastorDan
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