[A reductionist view of the eighth commandment would be simply: don't forcibly take someone else's property. For most affluent people—affluent enough to have an Internet connection and read a blog post—this is pretty straightforward. But Heidelberg doesn't let us off the hook; by asking (in line with Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount) what the heart behind the commandment is, it provides application for all of us. Theft "also includes all scheming and swindling to get our neighbour's goods for ourselves," even if the means appear legitimate. It rules out the charging of excessive interest (credit card companies, anyone?) and the watering down of beer as much as it rules out counterfeiting and fraud. It even rules out squandering God's gifts and laziness. How are we to live instead? "That I do whatever I can for my neighbour’s good, that I treat others as I would like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need."]
Q110. What does God forbid
in the eighth commandment?
A110. God forbids not only outright theft and robbery,
punishable by law.
But in God’s sight theft also includes
all scheming and swindling
in order to get our neighbor’s goods for ourselves,
whether by force or means that appear legitimate,
inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume;
or any other means forbidden by God.
In addition God forbids all greed
and pointless squandering of his gifts.
Q111. What does God require of you
in this commandment?
A111. That I do whatever I can
for my neighbor’s good,
that I treat others
as I would like them to treat me,
and that I work faithfully
so that I may share with those in need.