You Shall Not Steal Essay

You’d better take a pew and listen very carefully.

I say onto you that I have visited the promised land of Exceptional Grades. As I was tempted to coast through the Valley of Scrape-By, a voice spake with me and bade me to listen, for he had knowledge to share.

The celestial power handed down these ten rules for writing a great essay and I present them to you, my brothers and sisters. Follow them all, or you shall perish in the hell of infernal bad grades (failing that, you can hire an essay editor!)

(No offense intended to the author of the original Ten Commandments.)


Thou shalt research and thou shalt recognize that Facebook is not research

Yep, you really do need to read the books, search the journals and scour the web to find as much information about the topic as you can. Even though this element of the essay writing process is somewhat dull, it will actually make writing the damn thing much easier in the long term. Trust me on this.


Thou shalt structure thy essay before thou writes it

Ever heard the phrase “It’s all in the planning?” Well, it really is. Your essay should have a very clear structure that consists of an introductory paragraph, three to five paragraphs that develop the ideas and arguments, and a conclusion. Create a high-level plan of which ideas and points you intend to develop in which section and this will make the writing process much more effective.


Thou shalt write a thesis statement and shalt buildeth thy entire paper around thy thesis statement

Once you have a good idea about what you are actually going to say in your essay, you should know what type of answer you intend to give. If you don’t, you need to do more research… did you read what I wrote about Facebook?

Before actually writing the essay you should form a thesis statement. This statement will tell the reader what you will be writing about and what your essay will seek to prove. Include your thesis statement in your introductory paragraph so that you set the scene for the information that will follow. If you want a short cut to creating a great thesis statement, check out our thesis statement formula.


Thou shalt answereth the question set, and it will be good

It is very common for students to reel off tons of facts and figures without actually answering the question that has been set. What a total waste of time! Make sure you read the question several times and are 100% certain that you know what is being asked. Repeatedly ask yourself if you are answering the question as you write your essay. One great method to ensure that you are, is to refer back to the question at the end of every paragraph by including a statement that confirms how the information you have provided answers the prompt or supports your thesis statement.


Thou shalt avoid waffle and shalt not use jargon when common language will serve

Every single sentence that you write in your essay should serve a purpose. They should be clear, straight to the point and informative. Don’t be tempted to use up your word count by repeating the same idea several times using different words: you will fool no one. Waffle will bore your reader and damage the overall coherency of your paper.

Thou shalt present one idea per paragraph and never shalt thou write a paragraph that serveth no purpose

Present and write about just one idea per paragraph. This will help you to create a structured argument and will make your paper easy to follow. Refer back to your thesis statement or question at the end of every paragraph (yep, it’s that important I have written it twice), by doing this you ensure that you are actually answering the question in a methodical manner.

Thou mayest covet other authors’ works, but thou shalt not steal them

Never, ever copy an essay off the Internet or from a friend. Despite the fact that there is absolutely no point in doing this because you will learn absolutely nothing, the majority of educational establishments now use plagiarism software. Even if you don’t get caught out now, there’s a chance you will in the future and, in the worst-case scenario, you qualification may even be cancelled. Can you imagine breaking that news to your parents?

Always ensure that you fully reference the work of any publications you have utilized within your essay and include full and accurate citations where required.

Thou shalt write thy essay thyself and shalt not pay thy neighbor

There are websites out there that offer to write your essay for you for a very substantial fee—avoid them like the plague. Regardless of the fact that using these sites is actually cheating, you will not learn anything from your essays and will not have the knowledge that you need to get on in life.

If you have no morals and don’t care about learning there’s another problem with paying for essays; unless you can avoid using these sites for every essay you submit, there’s a chance that your professor will notice discrepancies in the quality of your writing, and you may be forced to answer some very serious questions. Good luck with that.

Thou shalt avoid the use of passive voice

Overuse of the passive voice can lead to writing which is unclear and flat. If you repeatedly use passive voice throughout your essay, you will bore your audience to tears, and the reader will lose all concept of the agent (no, I am not referring to 007).

Thou shalt not forsake thy proofreading, and thou shalt honor English rules

Do you think Stephen King or J. K. Rowling publish their work without ensuring that that it is painstakingly proofread? Of course they don’t, and neither should you. There’s no point in putting hours of work into an essay if you are going to damage your credibility by handing in something that is full of mistakes. Your professor won’t take you seriously, and your grade will suffer.

If you need help perfecting your essays, check out our academic editing services.

As soon as my colleague saw his car’s broken window, he felt sick. The feeling came not merely from knowing he would have to replace the window, but more from fear that years of work might be lost. In a moment his fear was confirmed; someone had stolen his briefcase.

Arriving later than expected for a speaking engagement in a large city, this professor had parked on a small side street some distance from the lecture hall. To avoid carrying his heavily loaded attaché case, he had removed his lecture notes and left the battered case on the car seat. Because it looked so worn and contained little of material value, he had thought it would be safe. Unfortunately, he was wrong.

I was touched later when he shared his disappointment and sorrow at the loss. That old briefcase contained the results of hundreds of kilometers of travel, the work of a few thousand dollars in grant money, the product of months of careful research, analysis, study, pondering, and writing. The book-length paper in the briefcase had no material value to anyone else. But what the thief probably threw away in disgust was a valuable part of another human being’s life.

Often that is the way it is with theft—more is stolen than material goods. When someone breaks the eighth commandment, victims lose not only their peace, but also possessions that represent bits of their lives.

The Meaning of the Eighth Commandment

God’s charge to Israel in this commandment is direct and forceful in the Hebrew language: lo tignov, “you shall not steal.” Tignov comes from the root word ganav, which means “to be a thief” or “to steal.” This word, by implication, suggests deceit and stealth. The Greek version of the Old Testament translated the Hebrew with the Greek klepto. Klepto, like the Hebrew ganav, carries the idea of taking secretly and craftily that which rightfully belongs to another. Embezzlement and misappropriation serve as good examples of this form of theft. Terms like deceive and cheat fit the methodology of the thief.

But what about taking items by force? Closely related to the Hebrew ganav is gazal, “to rob.” This word stresses confrontation, violence, or the threat of harm. God commanded, “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him” (Lev. 19:13). Thus, for the Lord, stealing also includes robbing, looting, plundering, and other unlawful seizures.

The Bible emphasizes that stealing belongs to the set of sins that includes murder, adultery, and false swearing. All of these are directly related, and theft is the common link; murder is the unlawful taking of life, adultery concerns the taking of virtue, and false swearing usually involves the taking of reputation, property, or goods.

The sentence “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 20:15) includes no object. Its prohibition is broad and unconditional: You shall not steal anything. In an era when slavery was commonly practiced, the Lord designed his law to protect not only possessions but also people from being unlawfully seized (see Ex. 21:16).1

The breadth of the commandment implies also that a person must not rob another through neglect. Indeed, the Bible teaches that negligence is an accessory crime. The true disciple of Christ must be a good neighbor even to a stranger (see Deut. 22:1–4) and must assist another in need even when difficult (see Prov. 24:10–12). One scholar, reviewing those three verses in Proverbs, commented: “It is the hireling, not the true shepherd who will plead bad conditions [verse 10], hopeless tasks [verse 11] and pardonable ignorance [verse 12]; love is not so lightly quieted—nor is the God of love.”2 In a discussion of sins of omission, Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, added his witness: “Not only shall we not steal, but we shall protect others’ possessions.”3

Three Important Principles

A close examination of the eighth commandment suggests three principles that help us understand why stealing is both a sin and a crime.

First, the commandment establishes the right to private ownership of property, thus protecting a necessary responsibility in life. President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “No liberty is possible unless a man is protected in his title to his legal holdings and property and can be indemnified by the law for its loss or destruction. Remove this right and man is reduced to serfdom. Former United States Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland said it this way: ‘To give [man] liberty but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.’”4

God enthroned his children when he gave to them, through Adam, dominion over the earth. In doing so, he granted to them freedom to produce and enjoy the fruit of their individual labors. Adam learned “to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow,” not by the sweat of someone else’s, “and Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him” (Moses 5:1; emphasis added).

Second, the eighth commandment shows us that God—not mortals or the state—is the source of the right to private ownership of property. All commandments originate in him. He, as the sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, sets the laws that govern his kingdom (see D&C 88:34–42). The earth belongs to him, and he has determined that humankind will share in it. However, each must do so according to his divine laws.

Third, anyone who steals acts against God. Since all divine law originates in him, any offense against that law is an offense against him. Thus, the breaking of any earthly laws based on his commandments—laws focusing on individuals, family, property, capital, labor, state, or church—is an act against our Father. King David realized this and declared, in reference to his having stolen another man’s wife and then having him killed, “Against thee … have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (Ps. 51:4).5

Stealing is a sin against our Heavenly Father even when motivated by need and poverty. The act dishonors God (see Prov. 30:9). Conversely, the honest person who chooses not to steal, even under stressful circumstances, shows trust in God. He is conscious of a covenant relationship with the Lord and chooses to sustain it.

A student once shared a story with me that effectively illustrated this point about honesty. While he was growing up, his father’s business had failed. By working hard, his father developed a new business that promised eventual returns but provided scant income for the family in the beginning. The student’s mother had gone to work too. This was distressing for the family, especially for the father, but he promised that it would be only for a short time. Within a year, the business had improved enough that the mother was able to quit working. Later the family became quite comfortable.

When my student, a business major, began working for his father, he learned that his parents had paid off all the debts from the earlier business failure, even though the debts had been canceled under bankruptcy laws. His father had begun paying them as soon as he started the new business. This was also one of the reasons his mother had gone to work. When my young friend questioned the wisdom of paying debts that had been legally canceled, his father explained that although he realized many honest people are unable to pay legally canceled debts, he felt his situation might allow him to pay his debts over a long period. His concern over his unpaid obligations forced him and his wife to reexamine their personal commitment to the Lord and to the covenants they had made with him. They felt that morally they owed those debts and that to do anything less than paying them would be stealing. So his father and mother had joined as a team to pay what they felt they owed, and they and their family had been blessed.

Stealing and Secret Combinations

Stealing violates a prime law of heaven that directs humankind to subdue the earth and have dominion over the animal kingdom under God—that is, according to our Heavenly Father’s dictates. Almost from the beginning of history, rebellious souls have sought to exercise dominion according to their own rules—in short, to steal. They have wanted to take jurisdiction over the earth and its people—to steal from humankind, rob the animal kingdom, and plunder the earth—without the restraining hand of their Creator and Lawgiver. Killing became linked to what Cain referred to as his “great secret, that I may murder and get gain” (Moses 5:31).

The secret combinations and workers of darkness nearly succeeded in Noah’s day. The result was an earth “filled with violence” (Moses 8:28). “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:12). Consequently, the Lord sent the Flood and destroyed the wicked “from off the face of the earth” (Gen. 7:4; see also Moses 8:30).

It did not take long for the process of corruption to begin again shortly after the Flood. Prompted by Satan, people invented systems that would assist them in their theft of God’s realm. Through the power of the devil, evil leaders who “sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder” (Ether 8:16) administered evil oaths unto the people, binding them to act together in wickedness. These secrets were passed from one generation to the next. In the Book of Mormon, Gadianton epitomizes the process. He was “expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery” (Hel. 2:4). This system gradually became the dominant force among the Nephites and contributed directly to the demise of that nation (see Hel. 2:13).

The world in the latter days suffers from the same problems and will continue to do so. One of the ironies and tragedies of the last days is that people will go through appalling, self-inflicted destructions, and they will not repent “of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Rev. 9:21).

Throughout history the Lord has attempted to teach humankind to use the earth’s riches for good. He called Moses, for example, to establish the laws of a righteous society among the children of Israel. The Lord intended his system to contribute to the full development of every individual; this system includes securing for each person the material goods that are the reward of labor. But too often people cannot overcome their desires to possess or control the material goods others have. For example, the prophet Amos said of his people, “They sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes,” and in their exaggerated greediness, they panted after the very dust that clung to the heads of the poor (Amos 2:6–7). And in speaking of those who did not pay their offerings to the Father, who gave them everything, Malachi asked pointedly, “Will a man rob God?” (Mal. 3:8, emphasis added).

In our day we are, sadly, all too familiar with those so greedy that they not only refuse to share with others but are willing to take anything from anyone by any means.

If we are wise, we will love people and use things, as our Father intended. Immorality occurs when we love things and use people. The awful idea Satan taught Cain was how to turn human life into property, how to make a child of God less than chattel.

The Savior’s Higher Law

When the Savior came, he established again the higher law of his kingdom:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

“This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40).

The New Testament invites the repentant disciples of Christ to live as a new person according to this law of love (see Rom. 6:4; Heb. 10:19–24). This law should influence our whole view of our duty toward others and our capacity to serve them and the Lord. Thus, Paul urged that he who stole should “steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28).

Moreover, our forsaking of past sins and our desire to follow the Master’s example should make us aware of the need for the highest moral standards in our everyday obligations. President Spencer W. Kimball pointed out that “honesty can be taught but not legislated. ‘There ought to be a law,’ many say when corruption raises its ugly head, and our answer is that there are laws—numerous laws which are not enforced; but our further answer is that you cannot legislate goodness and honor and honesty. There must be a return to consciousness of those values.”6 When people practice those values, the power of the Spirit and the force of love can do what the law cannot—overcome the greed and covetousness that lead to stealing.

The Real Cost

On a spring morning some years ago, my wife and I planted a little cherry tree on a sunny corner of our lot. We looked forward to a bountiful harvest eventually. The next morning, however, my wife stepped outside for a few moments and came back with a look of astonishment: “Someone took our tree!” Sure enough, a thief had dug it up, leaving us with an empty hole.

While we did not lose much in terms of money, we lost all the time involved in preparing the spot, buying the tree, and planting it. Still, we were fortunate compared to others whose losses have been much more damaging. I have wondered if the person who took that tree gave any thought to the spiritual price he or she might have to pay for it.

In the end, no thief will ever get away with stealing; thieves are in danger of losing their souls. They have violated a commandment of God and in so doing have ultimately damaged themselves more than anyone else. Our Father has commanded us, through his Son, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). The Greek word translated as “perfect” means to be whole or complete. It certainly involves having integrity.

Our Father in Heaven is complete; he has full integrity. We, as his children, have the potential to become as he is. But anything we do that does not shape a godlike nature within us violates what we are, our real selves and our eternal kinship to our Heavenly Father. Stealing, like any other willful violation of his commandments, keeps us from working toward being whole, or “perfect.”

Thieves discount their divine potential, as well as all the blessings awaiting the obedient, and forfeit them for material gain. Unless they repent, they rob themselves of eternal life.


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