WSC Q&A #74

Q: What is required in the eighth commandment?
A: The eighth commandment requires the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others. 
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 

"You shall not steal", as a command, reminds us that we are to legally acquire material possessions. The most common way for this, of course, is through hard work, which is both in accord with the laws of our land and the laws of God. However, motivation matters. Are we working hard to acquire material goods for our own benefit, comfort, enjoyment, or are we doing it with the interests of others in mind? If these commandments are ultimately about loving our neighbors as ourselves, then the eighth commandment has to also work on that level. The command to not steal is a prohibition that protects our neighbors. But, as the catechism and Phil. 2:4 points out, there is also something positive here. Not only are we to use legal means of acquiring wealth and possessions, we are to acquire wealth and possessions so as to protect the interests of our neighbors. In other words, the eighth commandment is not just about making sure we acquire wealth legally, it is about making sure we acquire wealth legally SO THAT we can actively improve and protect the interests of others. We can see, then, that within the prohibition of this commandment, there is a positive action taking place. We should be, by legally acquiring and furthering our wealth and outward estates, doing it for the betterment of our neighbors, and of course ultimately, to the glory of God. 

Posted on June 1, 2016 .