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Put Off Stealing – Give

Monday, January 02, 2023

Paul wrote, “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4.22–24). He then began to list a series of activities we should take off and their opposites to replace them.

We cannot just stop bad habits; we must replace the bad habits with good habits.

We’ve looked at replacing lying with speaking the truth (Ephesians 4.25) and replacing anger with quickly dealing with it (Ephesians 4.26–27). Paul next addresses stealing.

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)

How many thieves do you know? You may picture guys in black balaclavas sticking up a bank or a dark figure with a knife demanding someone’s wallet in a back alley, but there are many kinds of thievery.

One thing God hates is a false scale. “Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good” (Proverbs 20.23). “Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 20.10). These are people who write “16 oz” on the bag but only put in 15. They don’t top off the measuring cups they use. They secretly put a finger on the scale.

Hourly employees who arrive late and leave early rob their employers; they take payment for the full hour, but they didn’t work the full hour. Likewise, employees who twiddle their thumbs on the job, spend a significant time on their smart phones, texting with friends, checking their social media accounts, also steal from their bosses.

More egregious forms of stealing include identity theft, ransomware attacks on individuals and businesses, phishing attempts, etc. Fraudsters and cyber thieves exist in significant numbers these days, expending massive amounts of creative energy to come up with plans for swindling others out of their hard-earned livelihoods.

Paul says the opposite of this mentality starts with doing honest work with your own hands—but it doesn’t end there.

The real opposite mentality is an intention to give your wealth away to those who have needs.

Instead of thinking of this world as a winner-take-all fight fest in which you must scratch, claw, and bite your way to owning anything, think of it as your Father’s world in which he gives liberally and abundantly. You cannot outgive God. Whatever I give to another, God can easily replace. God is the greatest of all givers, the giver of all good and perfect gifts (James 1.17).

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9.8–11).

If we do not have a mindset to give, we will have a mindset to take from others. It’s one or the other, and God says we should take off that old man and put on the new! Trust him to provide all your needs, engage in honest work, and he will bless you in that—guaranteed.