Stealing violates the eighth commandment. Also, historians tell us that steeling rampant and typical in the 1st century in Asia Minor. Paul informs the Ephesian Christians that since they “in Christ,” they must not be involved any longer in this sin, no matter how common it was.
The Word of God never tells us to give something up unless it tells us to replace that with wholesome, godly and holy activities. This admonition to quit stealing in no exception. That is why Paul writes, “The thief must no longer steal,” rather, “Instead, he must do honest work with his hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.”
Here are a few applications of this teaching:
- He says there is a need for honest work. The Word of God bears this out. We have the example of Jesus as a carpenter; Paul worked throughout his ministry as a tent-maker so he would not be a burden on those he was trying reach. (Acts 18:3; 1 Cor. 9:115, 18; 1 Thess. 2:9) Work was highly valued in the Old Testament as well. (Exodus 20:9)
- Paul reminds them of the need for working. He wrote in 2 Thess. 3:10-12, “if anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.”
- We should also work so that we can “share with the saints in their needs. (Rom. 12:13)
John Wesley is quoted as saying, “Work as hard as you can, make as much as you can, then give as much as you can.” An example in the New Testament of one whose radical encounter with Jesus led him to be a giver was a man named Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).
-February 5, 2019, Lexington, TN