A thief is regarded as one of the most despicable of creatures. A thief is anyone who takes something that belongs to another without his consent!
Therein lies the explanation. To obey this Commandment rightly, a man need do nothing more than always distinguish clearly what belongs to the other person! That is not difficult, everyone will say to himself at once. And with that he has already dismissed the matter.
Certainly, it is not difficult, just as it is not really difficult to obey all the Ten Commandments, if one genuinely wishes to do so. But there always remains the condition that man knows them properly. And it is this that many lack.
In order to obey this Commandment, have you ever really considered what actually is the property of another, from which you must not take anything?
There is his money, jewelry, clothes, perhaps also a house and farm, with cattle and all that goes with it. But the Commandment does not state that it concerns only gross material, earthly goods! Indeed, there are values far more precious still!
A man’s property includes also his reputation, the esteem in which he is held in public, his thoughts, his individuality, as well as the confidence he enjoys from others, if not from all yet at least from this or that person!
Once having got so far, many a proud soul will already become rather less confident about the Commandment. For ask yourself: Have you never yet attempted, perhaps in good faith, to shake or completely undermine in another the confidence a person enjoys by a warning to be careful? If so, you have quite literally robbed the one in whom this confidence was reposed! For you have taken it from him! Or at least attempted to do so.
You have also robbed your neighbor if you know something of his circumstances and pass on this knowledge without the permission of the one concerned. You can recognize from this how gravely entangled in the meshes of guilt are all those people who seek to make a business out of such things, or who carry on business in this way.
Through all the effects of this activity of continuous transgressions of the Laws of God, the self-entanglements therein draw after them a net so enormous that these people will never again be able to free themselves; for often they are more heavily burdened than gross material burglars and thieves. Guilty, and akin to receivers of stolen goods, are those who support and encourage such “businessmen” in their sinful transactions.
Every upright and honorable man, whether private individual or businessman, has the right and the duty to demand an explanation and, if necessary, credentials direct from anyone who comes to him with some request, whereupon he can decide how far he can trust him and comply with his wishes. All else is unsound and reprehensible.
Fulfillment of this Commandment has at the same time the further effect of awakening the intuitive perception more and more, and of developing, setting free, its abilities. Man thereby obtains the right knowledge of human nature, which he lost only out of indolence. He gradually loses what is dead, mechanical, and himself becomes once more a living human being. Genuine personalities arise, whereas the herd-animal that is bred today must disappear.
Take the trouble to reflect about this, and see to it that in the end you do not after all find in the pages of your ledger just this Commandment much transgressed!