Q. 140: Which is the eighth commandment?
A.: The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.
Q. 141: What are the duties required in the eighth commandment?
A.: The duties required in the eighth commandment are, truth, faithfulness, and justice
in contracts and commerce between man and man; rendering to every one his due; restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners thereof; giving and lending freely, according to our abilities, and the necessities of others; moderation of our judgments, wills, and affections concerning worldly goods; a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose these things which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition; a lawful calling, and diligence in it; frugality; avoiding unnecessary law-suits, and suretiship, or other like engagements; and an endeavour, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own.
Q. 142: What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A.: The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, theft, robbery, man-stealing, and receiving any thing that is stolen; fraudulent dealing, false weights and measures, removing land-marks, injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust; oppression, extortion, usury, bribery, vexatious lawsuits, unjust inclosures and depopulations; ingrossing commodities to enhance the price; unlawful callings, and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbour what belongs to him, or of enriching ourselves; covetousness; inordinate prizing and affecting worldly goods; distrustful and distracting cares and studies in getting, keeping, and using them; envying at the prosperity of others; as likewise idleness, prodigality, wasteful gaming; and all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate, and defrauding ourselves of the due use and comfort of that estate which God hath given us.
We will cover the entire chapter today--though I only read about 2/3-rds of it today, having read the first part several weeks back.
To begin with, what are the presuppositions of the eighth commandment?
[A] The relation of love of neighbor and stealing:
The Law of God teaches us how to love our neighbors as ourselves. We love and respect his person, his marriage, and his property; and we do so for God’s sake and to God’s glory. Theft is a sin against love for God and for other human beings. (798)
"Theft or stealing is taking another [person’s] property by coercion, fraud, or without his uncoerced consent. Cheating, harming property, or destroying its value is also theft." 1. Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1973), 452–53. (799)
"Thus far, our definition of theft is incomplete. It must be added that theft is one form of violation of God’s fundamental order. Theft is therefore more than an offense against another person; it is an offense against God. God requires us to respect the life, marriage, and property of our neighbor and enemy, not because our neighbor or enemy is not possibly evil, and not because our own needs are not great, but because His law-order takes priority over the conditions of man. Neither the nature of our neighbor’s character, which may be evil, nor our own need, which may be great, can justify theft. The sovereignty of God requires the priority of His law-word.…
"A century ago, in his general survey of the law, Wines noted, “There are two principal sources of political, as of personal, power—knowledge and property.” This is the heart of the matter: property is a form of power, and wherever power is claimed for the state, there private property will be under attack." 3. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, 453–58. (800-801)
The foundation of the private ownership of property and property rights is the ownership of everything in all of creation by Almighty God: “For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all it contains.” (Ps. 50:10–12). Therefore, all human authority and property rights are “limited, delegated, and covenantal in nature.” 5. North, The Sinai Strategy, 140. (802-803)
[B] The Stewardship of Man:
Since God owns all property on earth, and in the universe, any ownership of property by human beings must be viewed as a stewardship from God (Matt. 25:14–30). (803)
It has long been recognized by Christian commentators that the biblical case for private property rests more heavily on this passage [Ex. 20:15] than on any other passage in the Bible. Individuals are prohibited by Biblical Law from forcibly appropriating the fruits of another man’s labor (which includes his ideas), or his inheritance. The civil government is required by the Bible to defend a social order
based on the rights of private ownership. (803-804)
"[T]he state is not the source of property. In the [tradition of John Locke] property is the creation of the state; or, the state was a social compact established to ensure the private ownership of property. In either form, control of property is in statist hands as the source of law and ownership. The Lockean world has thus moved logically from private ownership to ownership by the state as the trustee of the people. If justice has its origins in the state, then whatever the state does is therefore just." 8. Rousas J. Rushdoony, Commentary on the Pentateuch: Exodus (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2004), 272. (804)
[C] Greed and Covetousness the root of theft.
[D] Kinds of Stealing:
1. State Theft:
a) Eminent Domain: A man’s home is his castle....His governing authority over the home, his functions and jurisdictions are distinct from those of the church and the state. In his sphere, he is sovereign under God and His Law. (806)
How did the civil government come to the place where it can ignore the limitations to its authority regarding family and the family’s property and usurp the tyrannical power of eminent domain, i.e. the state’s power to confiscate personal property, even at below market value, whenever the state perceives its need for that property. ...
Such an attitude flies in the face of four Biblical principles. (1) “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” (2) God has given individuals and families the private ownership of property as a stewardship before Him. (3) The state is not the source of property and ownership of property. (4)
"T]he control of property results in the control of man, so while we continue to refuse to live by biblical principles, we will continue to lose our personal liberty, until, finally, the State is in total (tyrannical) control." 10. Hanson, God’s Ten Words, 205. (807)
b) Socialism/Welfare state:
Socialism is an entire system that is built on theft. Robert Metcalf writes:
"The idea of socialism or even the liberal “welfare” state in mild form, has, in practice, led to all kinds of evil. The stifling of progress and the bringing of inflation, shortages, class divisions and warfare—all these are natural results of
the stealing and envy born of mild socialism of the “welfare” state, just as surely as in the all-out socialism of the fully communized nation.
"Collectivism causes the pitting of class against class, of each segment of society against the whole people. A welfare economy—socialism, communism, or any form of social order which takes from one group to give to another—is thus lawlessness
organized into a system. Marxist economies hold to the principle of, from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.… The wealth of the successful is given to the unsuccessful. Special privileges are thereby given to the incompetent, the unsuccessful, and the lazy." 12. Hanson, God’s Ten Words, 203. (808)
c) Property taxes:
"In God’s view, having a tax on property itself could result in a person or family not being able to afford the property. “By restricting taxation to production the Bible restricted severely the powers of the state and preserved the liberty of the family, the merchant, the church, and every other order of life” [Rushdoony]." 13. Hanson, God’s Ten Words, 204 (809)
2. Business/Industry Theft:
"When business and labor use the law to steal from the consumer, or from one another, they are denying the rule of law in favor of the rule of might, of violence, for might apart from right is violence. Theft is theft, whether it be stealing from the rich, the poor, or the middle classes. The premise of pro-business legislation is this: It is right to steal for the sake of business, since business is good for the country. The premise of pro-labor legislation is: It is right to steal for the sake of labor, since the workingman is poor, and also because he has many votes.… A labor association may call itself Christian, but if it accepts the basic premises of unionism, it becomes
morally compromised.… The fact that a worker is poor gives him no more right to steal than an employer’s power gives him a right to defraud. Theft is not a privilege or right pertaining to any class of men." 14. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 509–10. (809)
3. At the Ballot Box:
The commandment against theft does not read, “Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.” We need to have private-property rights respected not just by criminals, but also by individual citizens who find that they can extract wealth from others by means of State power. Furthermore, private property rights must be respected by profit-seeking businesses that would otherwise petition the State for economic assistance: tariffs, import quotas, below-market interest rate government loans, and so forth. (810)
4. State Refusal to Protect Private Property Rights:
The civil government is required by God to serve as the protector of property. It must honor the laws of ownership that are set forth in the Bible. It should not prosecute a man who takes a few ears of corn from his neighbor’s field....The civil government can legitimately compel a farm owner to respect the gleaning laws. But the civil government cannot legitimately say which persons have to be allowed into the field to glean. The owner of the property has that responsibility, just as Boaz did (Ruth 2:3–12).
This view of theft and protection is not in conformity to either modern socialism or modern libertarianism. In the first system (socialism), the State collects the tithe for itself, and many times God’s tithe, to be used for purposes specified by bureaucratic and political bodies. In the second system (libertarianism), all coercion against
private property is defined as theft, including taxation itself (in some libertarian systems). Nevertheless, the Bible’s standards are the valid ones, and the Bible is clear: there is no absolute sovereignty in any person or institution. (811)
5. Church Robbery:
The older commentaries on the Eighth Commandment would condemn not only “land thievery,” but also “church thievery.” This sin included the withholding of tithes from God. (812)
A] Truth, Faithfulness, and Justice in Contracts and Commerce
Without truthfulness, reliability and fairness as defined by Biblical Law, a free market, binding contracts, commerce that benefits buyer and seller, and prosperity are impossible. In other words, free market economics cannot exist outside a Christian moral and social order. (814)
B] Rendering Everyone His Due
Verse 7 [Rom. 13] tells us that we are to discharge our obligations to all people and especially those obligations we owe to civil magistrates, e.g., honor, taxes, respect, submission and love. In fact, Paul teaches us that it is our love for God, for God’s institutions, and for other people that motivates and enables us to discharge the obligations we owe each other in human society, as commanded by the Law of God. We are not loving others if we fail to treat them with dignity and respect. If fact, we are stealing from them what is their due by virtue of the fact that they are created in the image of God, in places of authority, in possession of superior gifts, older in age, or our brother or sister in Christ. (815)
C] Restitution of Goods Unlawfully Detained from the Rightful Owners
In God’s social and moral order for human beings all trespasses must be amended. Restitution must be made for the restoration of peace in that order. (816)
First, restitution means the returning to the rightful owner what has been taken illegally from him. It also means to make amends by doing something or by paying something to make up for losses or injury incurred.
Second, restitution is a civil punishment administered by the civil magistrate according to the Law of God (Ex. 22:1, 4, 7; Lev. 6:5; Num. 5:7; 2 Sam. 12:6).
Third, restitution was also a ceremonial rite in the Old Testament, with reference to the reparation offering to the Lord, which pointed to Jesus Christ and was fulfilled in Him, who alone could make restitution to God for us and in our place (1 Peter 2:24; Luke 7:36–50).
Fourth, the desire to make restitution to those whom we have offended is an evidence of true conversion (Luke 19:9–10; Matt. 5:23–24; Phile. 18–19).
Fifth, restitution in everyday (non-civic) relationships is not to be demanded in every instance of injury or loss. ...
Sixth, this is not to be interpreted so as to forbid Christians from ever taking to court those who steal from them, when the occasion requires it (1 Cor. 6:1–3; Acts 25:11; Deut. 16:18–17:13). (818-819)
D] Giving and Lending Freely, According to our Abilities, and the Necessities of Others
In this verse [Luke 6:30], we have two commands in one: (1) If anyone asks something from you, and you give it, do not demand it back; and (2) If anyone takes away something from you, do not demand it back.
“Love will always be ready to help, to give without expecting a return. But it need not be said that Jesus could not inculcate indiscriminate giving such as fosters shiftlessness and other evils.” 22. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN:Augsburg Publishing House,  1961), 364. (819)
Is Jesus saying that under no circumstances should we ever make any effort to regain stolen property? There are times when it is our duty to defend ourselves, our family and our property (John 18:22, 23; Acts 16:37–40). God has given us courts of law for that purpose. “What the present passage teaches is the very important truth that our personal attitude should never be one of taking revenge.” 24. William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House,  1990), 351. (820)
In these verses, Jesus is commanding us to love and treat kindly those who do not love us ([Luke] 6:32–38). We are not to love the way the ungodly love, for self-aggrandizement; but we are to love selflessly with no thought of benefit from or the worth of the one we are to love....Although Jesus approves of interest on commercial loans (Luke 19:23; Matt. 25:27), here He is calling upon His disciples to be loving to the needy and be willing to give charitable loans without interest in obedience to Biblical Law (Deut. 23:19, 20). (821)
The point of the command is that the disciples of Christ are those who love others and who give of themselves and their resources generously and who, in faith, will receive back from God generous blessings. (821-822)
Work and theft are two antithetical approaches to property. Furthermore, human beings not only have the obligation of self-support and family-support, they also have the obligation to show charity to those in need. (822-823)
E] Moderation of our Judgements, Wills, and Affections concerning Worldly Goods
Our evaluation of, desire for and delight in material wealth, possessions and prosperity must be in moderation, if they are to be used and enjoyed to the glory of God...To be moderate is “to restrain from excess of any kind.” In other words, we are not to think of material wealth more highly or more lowly than we ought to think. (823)
1 Timothy 4:8, for example, teaches us that, whereas physical exercise and concern for the health of the body are important, godliness of life is far more profitable, “since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”...Therefore our desire for and efforts toward physical health should be moderate, whereas our desire for and efforts toward spiritual health should be all-consuming. (824)
Godliness with contentment is beneficial to the believer in every facet of life—physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual; therefore it should be the ultimate pursuit of our lives. Physical and material blessings are to be used and enjoyed as gifts of God to His children, but we must bear in mind three truths. (1) (v. 7, 8) Because physical health and material wealth are temporary, we should be
content with God’s provision of nourishment and shelter....(2) (v. 9–10) With the immoderate desire for, pursuit of and enjoyment of physical and material blessings, come temptations, snares and “many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.”...(3) Immoderate pursuit of health and wealth soon drowns out any concern for the Christian Faith or any pursuit of the Christian life: “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith.” (825)
F] Provident Care and Study to Get, Keep, Use and Dispose of these things which are Necessary and Convenient for the Sustentation of our Nature, and Suitable to our Condition
1. 1 Timothy 5:8 is clear: a godly man has the responsibility to provide materially, as well as spiritually, for the needs and welfare of his broad circle of family and friends, “his own,” and for his immediate family and dependents, “especially his own household.” If he neglects this responsibility to acquire wealth and property for the sake of his family, he “has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Earlier in verse 4, Paul teaches us that children and grandchildren are to acquire wealth and property so as to care for their aged parents: “[I]f any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family, and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God” (5:4). (826)
The general rule of inheritance (Deut. 21:15–17) is limited primogeniture, i.e., the oldest son, who had the duty of providing for the entire family in case of need, receives a double portion. Related to this is the idea that to bequeath an inheritance is to bless; therefore for a parent to confer a blessing on a rebellious and contemptuous child is to bless evil, which may not be done. (826)
2. Implied in this proverbial instigation to diligence in our calling, without complaining about hard word, are the following duties. (1) We ought to have some work to do, and not be idle. (2) We ought to have a good understanding of the work we are to do. (3) We ought to assume ultimate responsibility to our work, and not assign it to another. (4) We ought to be careful and considerate in taking every advantage possible to advance and expand our work, not letting any opportunity slip by, so that no time will be lost. (5) We must be diligent and prompt in planning
and in executing plans. (828)
Priorities must be kept straight and the primary focus of life must be on the triune God, “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” (829)
H] A Lawful Calling and Diligence in it
1. Once we have entered on our calling from God, we must not rashly withdraw from it because of external and social circumstances (7:18). Social status is irrelevant to living for Christ. (831)
We are not to complain about our lot in life, although we may work to improve ourselves (7:22–23). Therefore, stay courageously and diligently in the place God has assigned you as a faithful sentry. Be content with your calling in Christ and work hard and diligently in it. (832)
2. Laziness will bring poverty—materially, mentally, civilly and spiritually, but diligence in the duties of a vocation brings full-orbed prosperity. (832)
Prosperity and provision are given us from God through our diligence at working in a lawful calling. As Martin Luther said somewhere: “so he tempts God who snores and does not want to work, taking for granted that he must be sustained by God without work, although God has promised to provide for him through his work.” (832)
Frugality is a Christian duty. It is the opposite of wastefulness. (832)
J] Avoiding Unnecessary Lawsuits and Suretyship, or other like Engagements
1. It should be clear that unnecessary lawsuits, i.e., litigiousness, is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel. Litigiousness is, according to Noah Webster, “a disposition to engage in or to carry on lawsuits.” (833)
In 1 Corinthians 6:1–9, Paul explains the relation of the Christian to courts of law, both civil and ecclesiastical. The point of this important text has been narrowed by some today to say merely that members of the church of Christ should never sue their fellow members in a civil court of law. Such a narrow view fails to understand
our text in the light of its Biblical and historical context.
First, such a view disregards the fact that God Himself instituted civil courts for the benefit of all citizens, including those who are members of churches (Deut. 16:18–7:1). ...
Second, Paul, who is issuing these apostolic injunctions to the Corinthian church, initiated a lawsuit, not only against fellow church members, but also against the leaders in the Jewish church of his day, in his appeal to Caesar recorded in Acts 25. ...
Furthermore, what Paul is condemning in 1 Corinthians 6:1–7 is, to quote John Calvin, “an excessive fondness for litigation, which took its rise from avarice.” (834)
2. Irresponsible debt is a hindrance to wisdom and to prosperity; and unnecessary and unwise suretiship is irresponsible debt. What is “surety?” It is a person who makes himself liable for the financial obligations of another, e.g., co-signing notes, corporate liability, etc. (Prov. 22:26, 27; 11:15; 17:18). ....
These passages do not condemn all debt or all co-signing of loans. (836)
How is irresponsible debt to be avoided? (1) Avoid as many debts as possible (Rom. 13:8). (2) Use great care and wisdom in incurring debt. (3) Order your finances by the Bible. (4) Set the Laws of the Bible on debt-limitation (Deut. 15) as your goal; and aim for it as the Lord makes it possible for you in this ungodly society. (5) Watch out for greed and for impulsive spending, which are two of the leading causes of debt. (6) Disentangle your financial affairs from previously sinful decisions as soon and as wisely as possible. (7) Live by rule, not by impulse. (837)
K] Endeavor by all Just and Lawful Means, to Procure, Preserve, and Futher the Wealth and Outward Estate of Others and Ourselves
This insightful answer to Larger Catechism Q. 141 is simplified in Shorter Catechism Q. 74: The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others. (839)
A] The Neglect of the Duties Required
Refusal to be charitable to those believers in need of food and clothes, not because of any fault in them, is theft from them. (843)
As we have seen, theft, stealing, and robbery are to be defined as “taking another [person’s] property by coercion, fraud, or without his uncoerced consent.” 45. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 452. (844)
Our Catechism makes a distinction between theft and robbery. “Robbery differs from theft, as it is a violent felonious taking from the person or presence of another; whereas theft is a felonious taking of goods privately from the person, dwelling, etc. of another. These words should not be confounded." 47. Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language. (844)
“Man-stealers” are kidnappers, slave-traders, hostage-taking terrorists, etc.
A modern form of man-stealing is imprisonment as a form of civil punishment. Imprisonment, as we know it today, was not a punishment for criminals in the ancient Hebrew republic, because it had no place in the Law of God, other than a “holding tank” for a person arrested and charged with a crime, awaiting his/her day in court (Lev. 24:12; Num. 15:34). The civil sanctions according to the Bible are restitution, capital punishment, and mandatory bond-service to work out required restitution.
"[I]n Biblical law the goal [of the courts and civil law] is not punishment but restoration, not the infliction of certain penalties on criminals but the restoration of godly order. The center of attention is thus not the criminal but the righteous man and the total godly order.…" 50. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 515–17. (846)
[Stealing of another man's work and ideas falls under this category]
Not only is stealing a person theft, but manipulating a person to do what you want is also stealing—it is “stealing another person’s heart.” (847)
“Stealing the heart,” then, would apply to all forms of manipulation of others for gain for self, including advertising. (848)
E] Receiving Anything Stolen
These two texts instruct us not to be “a partner with a thief” or to be “pleased with him” or to “associate with adulterers.” To receive that which is stolen, to use it and to enjoy it, is to encourage in theft and to become one with the thief. (849)
F] Fraudulent Dealing
It is possible to “deal falsely” and to defraud your neighbor in a variety of ways.
"His property can be alienated by expropriation, injury, restrictive legislation, and a variety of other means. A man’s property, moreover, includes more than his land, home, material possessions, and money. A man has a property also in his ideas and inventions. Patents thus have a long history in Western culture as an outgrowth of the law against theft." 54. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 497. (849)
Sexual immorality “transgresses,” i.e., goes beyond and overreaches the boundaries God has placed on life. Therefore, it “defrauds” another of his or her rights....It is, among other sins, theft. (849)
G] False Weights and Measures
This law, so important to the monetary and economic morality of a nation, pertains to measurements of length or surface; weights as money, measures of capacity and scales. ...
First, it means that the phrase “let the buyer beware,” is not Biblical. ...
"Justice requires the maintaining of strict standards in [measurements of length and surface], and the penalizing of those who defraud by means of false measures." 57
"fraud in weights is essentially fraudulent money. 58 ...
Fourth, this law requires strict honesty in all measurements of capacity, liquid and dry.
Fifth, just balances refers to scales; and “[h]onest scales are basic to just commerce, and the regulation of scales is thus basic to the ministry of justice (Amos 8:4–8).”59
Sixth, “the consequences of violations of this law are apparent in the land itself, which will cast out the people.” 60
57. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 470.
58. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 470–71.
59. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 471.
60. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 472.
H] Removing Landmarks
This Mosaic law calls for universal respect for private property and the right to bequeath and inherit property in the family. John Calvin wrote: “That everyone’s property may be secure, it is necessary that the landmarks set up for the divisions of the fields should remain untouched, as if they were sacred. To remove a boundary landmark in this way is to break the eighth and ninth commandments at the same time. It is theft and false witness.” (853)
We must resist and overcome the attempts of our culture to cut itself loose from the past, from solid historical precedents and milestones, like the Protestant Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries, from tried and proven doctrinal guidelines, such as the Westminster Standards, and from the absolute moral standard of Biblical Law. Today’s western culture has broken down the boundary markers between right and wrong, truth and falsehoods, God and false gods. To do this is to murder western civilization.
The removal of old landmarks of history, doctrine and morals has been the major task and goal of humanistic education, politics and jurisprudence in the 20th century. (854)
I] Injustice and Unfaithfulness in Contracts
The Law of God governs man’s heart as well as his life (Matt. 5:21, 22, 27, 28). Some actions, technically within the letter of the Law, violate the spirit and intent of the Law, whenever man expropriates the property of another person by abuse of the letter of the Law. (855)
J] Injustice and Unfaithfulness in Matters of Trust
Theft includes injustice and unfaithfulness…in matters of trust, whether what has been entrusted is small or large, insignificant or important, without much monetary value or priceless. If a person’s heart is right with God, He will be faithful to whatever is entrusted to him. (856)
By “oppression,” is meant the use of slander, fraud, force and any other means to accomplish their desires. (858)
Extortion is “the act or practice of wresting any thing from a person by force, duress, menaces, authority, or by any undue exercise of power.” 68. Webster, American Dictionary on the English Language (859)
These laws forbidding usury have reference to charitable loans to poor, fellow believers or covenant members. Thus, these usury laws do not forbid all interest on all loans, e.g., commercial loans (Deut. 23:20), but all interest on charitable loans (Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35–37). (861)
These texts clearly condemn giving or taking bribes in order to obstruct or pervert justice, as defined by God’s Law. However, Proverbs 17:8 and 21:14 present us with godly bribes. (862)
According to these two proverbs [17:8 and 21:14], under certain conditions in an aggressively anti-Christian context, it is proper to give bribes and secret gifts to impede the progress of the apostate, or to encourage someone to do right, if that is the only way he can be convinced to do right. (862)
O] Vexatious Lawsuits
Vexatious lawsuits, then, are those devised to do harm to one’s neighbor, out of revenge, bitterness, or envy, without a just cause. (863)
P] Unjust Enclosures and Depopulations
Unjust enclosures was a practice that once existed in England
"whereby “common” land, (owned by the lord of the manor but which other persons had a legal right to use for pasturage) would be “enclosed” or fenced in for purposes of agriculture. Such enclosures would be unjust if the rights of those who were entitled to use the “common” land were disregarded. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries laws were enacted providing for “enclosures” on an equitable basis for all parties concerned, when more land was needed to raise crops. By “depopulations” the catechism means the practice of buying up large tracts of land to form a great estate, and removing the tenants who had been living on it, a form of injustice known in Old Testament times and condemned in Isaiah 5:8 and Micah 2:2." 79. Johannes Vos, The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary, ed. by
G.I. Williamson (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing Co., 2002), 384. (865)
Q] Ingrossing Commodities to Enhance Price
This has reference to monopolies of commodities.
"Not every form of monopoly is necessarily wrong; some businesses or services are natural monopolies.… What the catechism condemns as sinful are monopolies the purpose of which is to raise prices by “cornering” the total available supply of a product. This practice eliminates competition and prevents the normal functioning of the law of supply and demand; it creates an artificial shortage or disappearance of the product from the market, in order that those who have established the monopoly can name their own price and get it because no one else has the product for sale. Such monopolies of commodities, especially of the necessities of life, are so
clearly unjust that they are prohibited by civil legislation in many countries." 86. Vos, The Westminster Larger Catechism, 384–85 (868)
R] Unlawful Callings
Regardless of how profitable they may be, some vocations are unlawful for human beings, since by their very nature they require theft of time, energy and money from the one, true and living God, along with theft of time, money, energy and even health from other human beings, and their products are expressly for anti-Christian uses. (870)
S] All other Unjust or Sinful Ways of Taking or Withholding from our Neighbor what Belongs to Him, or of Enriching Ourselves
The Eighth Commandment forbids such sins as:
"the oppression of those who are of low social status by either not paying them, or by having or retaining that which is theirs. This occurs if one files suit against those from whom one has purchased something, or if one keeps litigation pending against those of lower social status who have no recourse." 87 ...
Keeping legal cases pending for the purpose of exhortation.
Drafting fraudulent wills, contracts, obligations, and receipts for the purpose of making illicit gain. This also applies to fraudulent billing.
Withholding or reducing wages unjustly and contrary to contract...
Purchasing on credit while knowing all along that you will not or cannot pay....
Undermining a neighbor’s business...
Concealing goods belonging to another that have been found, keeping them for your self, without making any effort to strive that the owner receives them again...
Inappropriately using rented and borrowed items in such a way as to unnecessarily damage them. 87. Wilhelmus á Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, trans. by Bartel
Elshout, 4 vols. (Pittsburgh, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994), 3:219. (871-872)
Covetousness transgresses the Eighth Commandment as well as the Tenth Commandment because it is the opposite of contentment, which, according to sixteenth century Swiss Reformer, Johannes Wollebius, is “the virtue by which man is satisfied with what he has justly acquired, and with his lot.” 89. Reformed Dogmatics: Seventeenth-Century Reformed Theology Through the Writings of Wollebius, Voetius, and Turretin, ed. and trans. by John W. Beardslee, III (Oxford University Press, 1965; reprint Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1977), 250. (872)
U] Inordinate Prizing and Affecting Worldly Goods
“Inordinate” means “excessive, immoderate, not limited to rules prescribed.” “Prizing” means “rating, valuing, esteeming.” “Affecting” means “strongly desiring.” “Worldly goods” refers to material wealth and property. So then, the Catechism is teaching us that the Eighth Commandment is transgressed when we value and desire material wealth and property excessively and immoderately. (874-875)
V] Distrustful and Distracting Cares and Studies in Getting, Keeping, and Using Them
Worry about the acquisition, keeping and using of material wealth and possessions is a transgression of the Sixth and the Eighth Commandments. It is a transgression of the Sixth Commandment because worry is suicidal; it leads to stress and tension related illnesses. It is a transgression of the Eighth Commandment in that it is a stealing from oneself of time, energy and joy. (876)
W] Envying the Prosperity of Others
"Envy is the greatest disease of our age. It is often confused with jealousy and covetousness, which have to do with wanting the possessions and privileges of others. Envy is much more insidious—and deadly. Envy is the feeling that someone else’s having something is to blame for the fact that you do not have it. The principal motive is thus not so much to take, but to destroy. The envier acts against the object of his envy, not to benefit himself, but to cut the other person down to his own level—or below.....
"Socialism is institutionalized envy." 93. David Chilton, Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics,  1990), 139–41. (878-879)
Idleness is doing as little as possible to get by. (881)
The point of this parable is: avoid laziness and poverty by planning ahead, by structuring your life wisely, and by working hard in a calling. Do without now, and save, in order to have later. Do not worry about the future, prepare for it!
Laziness, which is a refusal to begin and/or to persevere in good works, comes in different forms: (1) Physical laziness: refusal to begin and carry through exercise, hard work, chores; (2) Mental laziness: refusal to use the mind to its fullest extent; refusal to put effort into concentration and mental discipline; and (3) Spiritual laziness: refusal to persevere in Christian duties. (882)
Y] Prodigality, Wasteful Gaming, and all other Ways whereby We do Unduly Prejudice our outward Estate
Prodigality is the wasteful “extravagance in the expenditure of what one possesses, particularly of money.”99 By wasteful gaming the Catechism means all forms of gambling that waste energy, resources, time, money or other possessions. We unduly prejudice our own outward estate when we do anything sinful that hurts, damages, injures, obstructs, impairs or threatens our health, wealth, possessions or family. In other words, we are forbidden from stealing from ourselves and our families. 99. Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language. (883)
Z] Defrauding ourselves of the due use and comfort that that Estate which God hath given us
The Catechism’s exposition of the Eighth Commandment ends with the warning that we should not defraud ourselves of the due use and comfort of that estate which God hath given us....This means that: (1) All the good things we enjoy in life are gifts from God...(2) Human beings do not have it in them at all to draw enjoyment from life with all its mundane functions. (885-886)
In Ecclesiastes 3:16–4:16, Solomon shows that the apparent contradictions and injustices of life do not overturn the theme of Ecclesiastes....In 4:7–12, he answers the fact that men are lonely and isolated, with the argument that Godly marriage and family end that loneliness and isolation. God bestows the gift of companionship. Therefore, it is sinful to deprive ourselves of companions or to hinder others from enjoying our companionship, or that of others. (886)