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Help us to become honest workmen for God

Columbia Biblical Studies: Tuesday, March 4
Columbia Biblical Studies: Tuesday, March 4
Darren Lewis

Today’s bible study is Ephesians 4:28: Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

This is an extremely difficult scripture to understand, especially without some historical background. Findlay helps us to understand by telling us: From the lowest dregs of the Greek cities, from its profligate and criminal classes — the gospel had drawn its converts. In the Ephesian Church there were converted thieves; and Christianity had to make of them honest workmen.

With this background of the Ephesians’ church, it is a bit easier to consider the concept of stealing, which is explained extremely well by Nicoll, W. Robertson: Stealing was not wholly condemned by ancient heathen opinion. It was even allowed by the Lacedaemonians.

Paul now offers a corrective to stealing, in the words, ‘but rather let him be laboring, working with his own hands that which is good, in order that he may be having wherewith to be sharing with the one who is having need.’

With this explanation, perhaps we can better understand the teachings to the Ephesians and consider the difference between busy and idle hands. Many know the old saying, ‘Idle hands do the devil’s work.’ Whether this is true or not is surely debatable and may never be answered but, the converse is very true indeed. And that is that busy hands can do the work of man and of God.

In doing so, we are then encouraged to give freely to those in need. This means much more than dropping a ten dollar bill in the collection plate on Sunday, It means that we reach out with the grace of charity everywhere we see need. Give freely, in the same loving spirit that Jesus himself gave, asking nothing in return.

May we all have the strength to do good works, the grace never to steal but to earn, and the love to live lives o charity as Jesus and His followers did. May we find less pride in our accomplishments in material ways and more joy in them in spiritual ways. May each act of charity, no matter what, where or when it occurs, bring us ever closer to God and to the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. And may Jesus work in us and through us and make us instruments of his grace and love.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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