“He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” (Eph. 4:28)
Stealing is a sin. It is also selfish in that its result is for the thief’s own use. If the thief cared about others, he would not be stealing from them. Paul says the thief must get a job and earn money so he can help others. This labor for hire carries with it the idea of honest work.
Here again, the Christian has to be careful of how he lives for two reasons. First, stealing, as we have mentioned above, is a sin. Second, others are watching, and such behavior might cause them to sin as well.
Obviously, the Ephesians were like modern-day Christians. They had a variety of pasts, and not all of them were good. In fact, the entire city had a poor reputation which made it even more important for Christians to live exemplary lives.
We also see in this a call for faithful saints to be aware of those around them who are unable to take care of their basic needs. Some reading between the lines must be allowed here as we try to understand who this needy person may be. Elsewhere Paul is harsh against those who won’t work to support themselves and family. In this regard, Paul would probably have a hard time with much of American society. Since he was opposed to helping those who could but wouldn’t it seems safe to venture that Paul’s use of the word need is limited to those who are not able for whatever reason to hold down a job.
It is understood that Christians are to do good to all men, beginning with other faithful saints. The hungry must be fed and the naked clothed. Hospitality must be extended to strangers and cups of water are to be supplied without cost. Orphans and needy widows are to be taken care of and this can’t happen if the able to work Christians are too self-centered to provide for themselves as well as others.
Sadly, our culture encourages us to obtain more and more of everything which limits us in helping those in need. In a way, it’s like stealing, because it leaves nothing for others. Building bigger barns and storing up treasures on earth is not a biblical principle. What Jesus and then Paul would teach is that we store up treasures in heaven by not storing them up here on earth. The good news brought by Jesus is all about sharing. Christians are the people who lend and don’t ask for it back, share without being asked and realize its all just stuff and won’t leave this world with us.
Task for today: Enjoy your work because it is God given so that you can help the people in need. Help them. Feed a hungry person, give a cup of water (and the cup). Why not visit a sick person and take them a gift? Today, put the spotlight on someone besides yourself and your’s.