Falsely Attributing to Oneself What Belongs to God
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)
You shall not steal. (Exodus 20:5)
We have many possessions that get in the way of our relationship with God. Everything that comes to us during this life comes to us through grace and is a gift. It is an error to think that we own anything, because everything that is good and true comes from God. God is the author of our being and God has made us out of God’s own substance. Everything returns to God according to the laws of the universe. But this lesson goes beyond the material world and beyond material possessions. We attempt to own our thoughts, our version of the truth, our version of how the world works. Our attempts to control the world in which we live steal from God’s abundance and attempt to accrue all the benefit to ourselves. When we believe we own the truth or that we can represent the truth to another human being, we are interfering with God’s relationship to the world and God’s relationship to that person. What we attribute to ourselves is a form of stealing.
The admonition not to steal can be found in all of the Commandments:
Theft of a life
Theft of truth in your relationship
Stealing from God the representation of God
Theft of God’s authority
Theft of respect
Theft of God’s authority
Theft of God’s time
Steals intimacy from others
Steals human dignity, respect, and grace given by God
Bearing false witness
Making graven images
Worshipping other gods
Failure to honor one’s mother and father
Taking God’s name in vain
Not keeping the Sabbath
Coveting someone else’s relationships, gifts, rewards
The admonition not to steal, by itself, reinforces all other ways one can falsely attribute to ourselves what belongs to God.
You are abundance and life itself to us, God. Help us to remember from where we come and to where we go. May we travel on our journey to you, God, unburdened from all the things we believe we own. Jesus told us the burden is light. May we give up all things that distort our perception. May we have eyes that see. May we give up the burdens we have created for ourselves; may we find ourselves in complete freedom. In our freedom may we love and act with compassion; may we help unburden others through our words, our thoughts, and prayers. Amen.
From The Readings
2012-119 (How can I feel better about the work I’m doing?) One thing that you must trust is that it is not just you who has created this world. The world has also been created to help you. The process is never one-sided. Look for ways that you are helped and look for ways that you are helpful. It is not just your responsibility to create the spiritual conditions of the world. They already exist for you. There are things that you see about the expression of human nature, about the manifestation of the false self, that can only be seen in that kind of environment. You understand very well how basic human needs can become distorted and express all manner of what is selfish. But you must also learn how those with high ideals, and those with altruistic intention can become distorted. You also are learning how difficult it is with a large group to hold a purpose and the ideals. There is a relationship between supporting the purpose of an individual and the purpose of a community that is in covenant. The context affects in both directions— toward the individual and toward the community in covenant. You will be creating community, and though you think sometimes that your intention will protect you, you are learning how to hold your intention in community with those who are still ruled by powers unconscious of their true purpose. This is true for both you and Jeffrey, and it is why you are working in your present communities—understanding what the covenant means to each person, understanding why and how the higher intentions express themselves, understanding how the intention can be distorted—these understandings are essential to those who receive great spiritual power. If you see and read carefully, and if you read to understand cultivation and use of power found in the stories of the Bible, the relationship of people to power, the relationship between those in power with the people, how these things work and how Jesus spoke to power and used power, there is great learning here. His power comes in ways that are not understood in the material world, and the material world had trouble understanding his use of power. He did not misuse the power he was given. This will help you see where you are and it will help you see where you are going. This will help you identify with people and then they will connect with your authentic and powerful use of power, especially with spiritual power.