"Nobody likes...a Thief"
“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 has need.” –Ephesians 4:28 NASB
The Scripture is pretty cut and dry here. Any time I hear the word steal it makes me think of thief. Growing up, I often heard my elders say, ‘Nobody likes a liar or a thief.’ Looking back, I get what they were talking about. If you can’t trust a person not to take your things, then that creates a rather uncomfortable situation. If a family member or a friend helped themselves to your wallet whenever you visited, that would create tensions and resentments. Personally, I would love them regardless and just lock my valuables in the car while praying they grew out of that season of life. However, at the heart of the matter stealing creates an environment of distrust.
Interestingly, the Greek word for steal is klepto. That is the same word we use today to describe someone who is addicted to stealing; and kleptomaniac is the very word that psychologists use to diagnosis someone with the compulsion to take things that do not belong to them.
The first time I read through this verse and prayed on it, I imagined Paul addressing the folks at Ephesus and being like, “Stop being lazy. Don’t take things that do not belong to you! If you want something be willing to bust your rear-end for it.” This is something that is definitely applicable today. Whatever we do, we are commanded to work hard for it! Whether we are in construction, landscaping, cutting hair or even if we are in ministry. We are to give all of ourselves while we are toiling. Further, anyone who has had something taken from them knows that feeling that pierces the heart when something has been stolen. There is a sense of violation that is left inside a person that is awful.
Yet, as clear as all of that is, the fifth or sixth time that I looked at this passage, God began to unpack something for me that I had not considered. I mean, I see that God commands us to live according to His word, and to meditate on His principles and I can see how we may allow ourselves to get distracted and take away from praying to God, studying the Word, which in its own way is stealing from our ability to glorify God. However, that is not what began to make sense the fifth or sixth time I read through this verse.
God commanded us to stop stealing, to start working hard and performing with our own hands what is good—not for all the reasons that I could come up with for why stealing is bad—but so that we might have something that we can share with someone else who is in need.
Think about that. Are we studying the Word the way that we should so we can share the Gospel to those who have need of it? Are we working hard on our own tongues so that we aren’t speaking lies and discord into other people’s lives? Are we putting in the work to look at ourselves in the mirror, rather than pointing out everything someone else is doing wrong? What about you? Where are you hardly working? What could you work harder on so you can give to someone who has need?
Until Next Time