Ephesians 4:25 – 32 Verse 28 – Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
When in Bible college we used to play with this verse a little. I believe using the King James version and changing the punctuation we came up with: “Let him who stole – steal, no longer working with his own hands.” Needless to say, one needs to mindful and careful of how to read the scripture.
In fact, this verse was at the heart of my parent’s belief in how believers needed to conduct themselves. The command to work hard, “doing something useful with your own hands,” earning enough so that something might be left over for others, goes hand in hand with being a Jesus follower.
Paul also presents working and sharing as a way to climb out of a dishonest way of life. There’s something clean and good about doing something useful, about being productive —and then giving the surplus away. It reverses the old way of life in which a person would steal from unsuspecting, innocent people, often planning in dark places of the heart how they might prey on others.
From the beginning God intended man to be active and busy with God-given work in his life. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen. 2:15). How good to plant seeds, water them, and see them send up shoots; how good to tend and prune and sweep, taking care of the garden of creation we were given.
Paul calls us to a way of life that is characterized by growth in Christ, in a loving community of believers who do something good and useful collectively —not sitting around gossiping, sniping at each other, fueling conflict and bitterness. How wonderful is the fellowship of loving, kind, compassionate people redeemed by Christ!
Lord, we long to grow into a loving community in Christ, useful and compassionate to people in need. Guide us, we pray. Amen