Exodus 20:15 Sermon Notes


Pastor Josh Stone

Exodus 20:15 and Matthew 6:19-24 – The Eighth Commandment 

Exodus 20:15 – What does the Commandment Prohibit 

Thou Shalt Not Steal. The prohibition of stealing – taking what is lawfully not yours – is foundational for any society to exist. 

New City Catechism: What does God require in the eight commandment? “That we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit.”  

This commandment prohibits both the sin of commission and omission. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith asks this: “What are the duties of the eight Commandment?”  “The duties are, truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between people; rendering to everyone his due; restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners; giving and lending freely, according to our abilities and the need of others; moderation of our judgments, will, and desire concerning worldly goods; … a lawful vocation, and diligence in it; frugality; avoiding unnecessary lawsuits, or other like engagements; and an endeavor, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own.” 

Don’t steal money, possessions, time from your employer AND use your abilities and property to benefit others as best you can.  Another way of saying this: Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.  

Money Reveals our Hopes

Matthew 6:19-20. How we use our money reveals our hopes for the future. Hope drives our use of money. Jesus says: look at how you use your money. That shows your ideal future – what you hope in.  Jesus instructs us not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth.  Earthly treasure – anything that decays, dissolves, and can be destroyed.  Heavenly – that which cannot – people, relationships, the gospel of Jesus, spiritual work.  Jesus says: Put your treasure in heaven, not on earth.

Convert your Currency 

We can convert our paycheck to a currency that will never be destroyed. We can convert earthly currency – US dollars – and exchange them for heavenly currency.  Unless we convert our earthly currency now, it will be worthless in the future. How do we convert our currency? Through generosity – giving to the poor, to the church, and to missions.  When you convert your earthly treasure to heavenly treasure, you are putting your hope in heaven and investing in a heavenly reward. 

Money Reveals our Heart 

Money reveals our heart. Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  So, according to Jesus, what is the magnet and what is the metal? Our treasure is the magnet that draws our heart like metal.  Wherever we put our treasure, our hearts can’t help but follow.  Just as water eventually makes it to the lowest point, so our heart eventually makes it to our treasure. If your treasure is in heaven with God, your heart will desire the things of God: goodness, justice, love, mercy, kindness, self-sacrifice.  If your treasure is on earth, your heart will desire the things of earth. We can’t fight the pull of treasure on our hearts. You can only put your treasure where you want your heart to be. 

Move Your Treasure

Where is your heart? Where are your thoughts, desires, wants? Actions, practices?  Move your treasure to where you wish your heart wanted.  Do you want to be a loving, kind, gracious, wise, gentle, courageous, and merciful person? Those only come from God. You must move your treasure to where God is. 

Money Reveals our Health 

Matthew 6:22-23. Jesus uses an analogy of sight to explain the relationship between our spiritual health and our money. In this context, blindness was common because things like cataracts were permanent. Our relationship to money determines the health of our spiritual eyesight.  Your relationship to money is like sight – if you have a healthy relationship to money, then you have clear spiritual sight and can spiritually see what you should do in your life.  But, if your relationship to money is worldly, selfish, greedy, or fearful, it is like having spiritual cataracts. Every other arena of your life will be harder to discern.  Money reveals our spiritual health.  What Jesus is saying is this: if you want the clear spiritual sight necessary to navigate the difficulties of life, then you must obey the 8th commandment. 

Make an Appointment with the Ophthalmologist 

If you are struggling to have clear spiritual vision in your life, then you may have greed-induced spiritual cataracts.  You need to make an appointment with the Spiritual Ophthalmologist? Good news! He’s always open and has permanent availability. You get your finances (budget, etc.), Bible, a notepad and nice fountain pen, and you fast, if able, from food, and you go to God in prayer.  Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Confess and Repent. Ask and Seek the Lord for wisdom. 

Who Will You Serve? 

Jesus ends with this statement in Matthew 6:24 – “No one 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.”  Put another way – “No one can serve two [Lords], for either he will hate [God] and love [money], or he will be devoted to [God] and despise [money]. You cannot serve God and money.”  Here it is: You and I can serve either God or money. 

How do we know what we are serving? If you love God you will be devoted to God – you will listen and obey what God says. You will orient your life around God and his commands.  If you love money you will be devoted to money and become angry when someone or something gets in the way of your career, pursuit, and your money. 

Who are the greedy? Those who are not satisfied with what is enough for their own needs. Who are the robbers? Those who take for themselves what belongs to everyone. And you, are you not greedy? Are you not a robber? The things you received in trust as a stewardship, have you not appropriated them for yourself? Is not the person who strips another of clothing called a thief? And those who do not clothe the naked when they have the power to do so, should they not be called the same? The bread in your pantry belongs to the hungry. The coat in your closet belongs to the naked. The shoes you allow to rot belong to the barefoot. The money you keep buried underground belongs to the destitute. You are thus guilty of injustice toward as many as you could have helped but never did. 

St. Basil the Great (330–379) “I Will Tear Down My Barns” 

Jesus Kept His Treasure in Heaven 

Have you ever wondered how Jesus, though eternally wealthy, was able to come to earth and live in poverty? He was able to perfectly obey the law? How he was able to, willfully and joyfully, endure the cross? How he trusted and hoped in God even in his moment of death?  How did he do it? He kept his treasure in heaven. His heart was in heaven, his hope was in heaven, and so he was able to live, face anything, and do it with grace. That same Spirit that empowered Jesus can empower you through faith in Him.