Verse of the Day Devotion: Ephesians 4:28
“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.” – Ephesians 4:28
Paul now speaks in our focus verse regarding stealing. Back in this time period within the pagan community, theft was a common practice, mostly because there were many who found it difficult to provide for themselves and their families. This practice of pilfering was almost common practice back then. No property was safe which was not guarded or locked up so that it was inaccessible. Sounds like today in some ways.
Now, we are not to believe that thievery was a common practice within the first century church. However, since many converts were from the pagan communities, it is not surprising that Paul would spend time in preaching against the practice. The first thing he tells them is that they must stop if they are still stealing. He states this as a point of caution. If someone has long been in the habit of practicing any sin, they are prone to falling back into it again. As an example, think about the problem of excessive drinking. Someone who was a practicing alcoholic in the past but now drinks no longer, has to be careful that he does not fall into this practice again. The same can be said for people addicted to drugs, and as Paul talks about, stealing from others.
He then says that instead of stealing from others, seek the means of living in an honest manner. In essence, find a way of getting what you need aside from by dishonest means. They were to work hard so that you could themselves acquire legally what they need. They need to give up taking from others that which they can get for themselves. As he wrote to the church in Philippi, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. We can always trust Him to meet our true needs.
And he ends this by stating when they go out and work, they are to share with those who are in need. They are not just to think of themselves, but also think of others who need help in making ends meet. I like the way the theologian Albert Barnes puts it. Paraphrasing, he says “a considerable number of people cannot labor to support themselves due to being either too old or young, or they are crippled, sick or laid up in bed. If those who are working do not share with them what they have, they very well could perish. Based on this, we should desire, in our labors, to provide for their needs.”
We, as Christians need to follow this verse. We must not steal, in any form. This means in regard to things, ideas, dignity, or any other way. We should work to get what we need and want, not take with no remuneration. And when we do work, let is take the opportunity to help those who are truly unable to work to address their needs. This will help by not allowing them to fall into temptation to steal in order to take care of themselves and their family. Meeting the needs of the needy is often more important than purchasing a new unnecessary item. We would like help if we were in need.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.