“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 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Ephesus, and all Christians everywhere, to put off their old sinful pre-converted desires and behavior, be renewed in their minds through the Word of God, and to put on their new regenerated behavior. This new self is characterized by holiness in desire and righteousness in behavior.
What exactly does righteous and holy behavior look like in our everyday world and culture? It is at this point that Paul becomes specific in the practical biblical truth set forth in Ephesians 4:22-24.
Ephesians 4:25 commands believers in Christ to always speak the truth to their neighbors. Ephesians 4:26-27 addresses the subject of righteous anger. Ephesians 4:28 contrasts stealing vs. working.
To begin with, the apostle Paul states let the thief no longer steal. A thief (κλέπτω; klepto) is an individual who steals from someone else. For the believer in Christ, God’s command is to no longer steal.
Instead, the believer in Christ is to work: but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands. Labor (κοπιάω; kopiao) is a present active command to work hard and to toil for what one seeks to acquire. The believer is to do work (ἐργάζομαι; ergazomai) and to accomplish a task with his/her own hands. The purpose of work is not solely to acquire stuff, but also to share from one’s resources to those who are in need.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Christians are not to steal, but are to work in order to give to the needy. A thief takes from others for his own benefit, whereas a believer is to work, doing something useful (agathon, “beneficial”; cf. v. 29) with his own hands for the purpose of sharing with those in need. This is true Christian charity. Work has many benefits: it provides for a person’s material needs, it gives him something useful to do (something that is beneficial to himself and others), and it enables him to help others materially.”
Believers are to be content with what they have and work hard; not only to maintain what they possess, to acquire what they do not presently have, but also to share with those who are in true need.
Have a God honoring day.
Soli deo Gloria!