let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. [ephesians 4:28]
are you stealing? do you take what you have not worked for, without repayment, without effort, and without gratitude? in the church today, we call this consumerism.
in ephesus, to take advantage of the wealth of others would have been a disgrace. but at the heart of the matter, stealing indicates laziness and greed. paul is exhorting this kind of person to turn from these attitudes of the heart, not just to change their behavior. this is the “turning from.” the “turning to” would be the opposite attitudes of diligence and generosity, demonstrated by the actions of laboring honestly and sharing with others in gratitude, through the Holy Spirit.
we work so we can give. we work so that we can be generous. how are you being generous in the body of Christ? here are some questions you can ask.
am i coming on wednesday nights to be fed, or also to feed? how am i serving?
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” [hebrews 6:10]
am i going to lot family with intentionality and purpose, looking for ways to use my gifts?
for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. [mark 10:45]
am i thanking those who serve regularly with words of encouragement?
and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. [hebrews 10:24-25]
am i financially giving generously and with joy?
each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. and God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. [2 corinthians 9:6-8]
am i pouring the goodness of God into the lives of others, or just looking for someone to pour it into mine?
but thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. [2 corinthians 2:14]
so are you stealing or are you sharing?
there is good news in this verse. God changes us, and through the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can turn from old ways to his better, more satisfying ways! we can live out our role in the body with diligence, generosity, and great joy in unity with Christ. what a blessing we have in this body. let’s live out of our gratitude, and may God be glorified in our church!
~ arwen eastman