Steal No Longer. Paul continues with his list of characteristics of a true believer. The admonishment from Paul is two-fold.First, no longer steal. Second work with your hands.
28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Ephesians 4:28, NKJV
Paul continues with his list of characteristics of a true believer. The admonishment from Paul is two-fold. First, steal no longer. Second work with your hands.
While this is an obvious reaffirmation of, "Thou shalt not steal," it is certainly a timely one for our generation. Living in a time of great affluence and also one in which we are often encouraged to steal (although that term is not used), we must seek wisdom from God to be obedient to His Word and not to follow the practices of the culture in which we live.
Our first response is often, "I would never steal." However, we should look at what this commandment implies. What are some ways in which we are often tempted to steal?
My first thought goes to the workplace. How do people commonly steal from their employer? Yes, taking a pencil home is stealing, but there are even some more common applications. How about quitting before the bell rings or leaving just a few minutes early so you can get to your car more quickly. How about getting to work late? If our employer pays us for 8 hours of work, then we should work 8 hours. Remembering that God sees everything we do, let us work to please God, and not dishonor His name by stealing time from our employers.
What is a common way of stealing from the grocery store - or another place of business? What do we do when we are given too much change? Do we give the extra change back, or do we say, "Well that is their loss and my gain."?
We commonly think of money when we think of not stealing, but we can steal many things besides money. We can steal time, we can steal a person's good name, we can steal another person's idea and claim it as our own, we can steal friends, etc.
What are some other Scripture references regarding stealing? (These are all from the New King James Version of the Bible.)
John 10:10 reminds us that a thief comes to kill and destroy, but Christ came to give us an abundant life.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Proverbs 30:9 reveals the writer asking God to give him enough so that he is not tempted to steal, but not too much so that he does not forget God. In other words, contentment with what we have been given by God keeps us from the temptation to steal.
Lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.
Matthew 6:19 encourages us to seek heavenly treasures rather than the treasures of this earth.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
Let us, then, seek the help of Christ to live this life in a manner which is pleasing to Him and steal no longer. Let us pray for contentment and seek to grow in the love and knowledge of Christ, laying up treasures in heaven which none can steal. It is not man we should fear, but let us fear God. Man can rob us and kill us, but God controls the destiny of our very souls!