Ephesians 4:28 “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”
I love this verse, because it has a surprise ending. The first part is quite clear: don’t steal! If you have been stealing, or even “mooching” off of others, stop that! It is wrong. The second part is obvious as well: work hard. It is good to work hard, to learn a trade, to do something useful with our time and with our hands. So far, so good, right? Stop stealing, start working.
But that last part is so astounding in its simplicity, it takes us by surprise! We are surrounded on all fronts with people and advertisements telling us to work hard, so that we can get ahead in this world. We should work hard, get an education, put in extra hours at the office, bring our work home with us . . . and why? So that we can have more. And more. And more.
Those of us who live in rented apartments work hard so we can buy our own homes. Those of us who own homes work hard so we can buy bigger and better homes. Those of us who take the bus wish to buy a car, but once we have a car we want a more expensive one. It is an endless cycle, and it will never bring us satisfaction.
But Paul tells of a different way, a better way to view work. He says that we should work so that we can have something to share with those in need! I have tried it both ways, and I can testify that sharing with those in need, and blessing those who are less fortunate really does bring satisfaction. When I take the focus off of what I would like to have, and place it on what I am able to give, it brings a joy and contentment that I can’t describe. It makes me feel good about myself. It makes others feel good about me. And it pleases the Lord.
In a way, acquiring more and more stuff is like attaching shackles to our feet. Stuff, no matter how expensive, just causes clutter, and it loses its value after a while, anyway. But when we put our time and energy into giving instead of getting, it is like the shackles are loosed, and we are given wings to replace them. There is a joy, a freedom in sharing.
But don’t rely on my testimony. Try it yourself – you’ll see!
Dear Father, Thank You for teaching me a better way to live. Please help me to stop focusing on myself, and start focusing on others. Help me to be a hard worker and a generous giver.