“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.” Exodus 22:1
Read Exodus 22:1-15
Some years ago, the Church of Scotland was having a great meeting (one of its great assemblies) in the city of Glasgow. The mayor of Glasgow came to address the body, and he got up and said something pretty interesting.
He said, “You spend an awful lot of time debating as theologians about whether there is a God or what he’s like, and you spend an awful lot of time talking about God.” He said, “I’m not a theologian and most people aren’t. With all due respect, let me tell you what we really need from you. We do not need a lot of speculation about God and about theological discussions and such things and doctrine. Those things really don’t matter to the modern person anymore, and they don’t matter to us. Here’s what we need from you. How can we love our neighbor? How can we get along? How can we treat each other with kindness and with respect? We desperately need an answer to that question, and that’s what we’re looking for the church to give.”
I mention this not because you should be interested in Scottish politics but because it’s very common everywhere in the Western world. The opinion is, “What you believe about God is not critical. It is social problems that are critical. Whether you believe in God at all is not critical. The important thing is how do we get along? How can we treat one another with respect?”
These laws deal with the respect of personal property and stewardship. What Mr. Mayor missed was that Christ did not come to make us moral, but to rescue us. Morality is simply the by-product and not the end goal of Redemption.
Mr. Mayor, on what basis should I treat other human beings with kindness and respect? Mr. Mayor, on what basis should I be unselfish? Why should I deny myself anything? On what basis? If there is no God, the only reasonable answer to the question, “What are we?” is there is no difference between a human being and a bag of chemicals, our feelings to the contrary notwithstanding. If there is no God, we are all results of the accidental collision of molecules.
Christianity holds the view God created the world. It is his. Treating anything as “fully and completely” as our shows that we do not understand how gracious our Creator is in sharing his world with us. The cross shows us that even though God had everything, he gave it all up to die on a cross with us. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that sthough he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)
God’s grace make us generous. It makes us honest in not stealing hours from our boss, not over billing hours to our clients. “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Eph 4:28)
Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a great Scottish preacher, put it this way. He said, “To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its lifeblood than its money.”
God’s grace makes us generous. Today be generous with your boss, with your clients, with your friends, and with your family. It is the only appropriate response to the Grace of God giving his life for you on a cross.