“Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.” vs. 28
There’s something delightfully naive about this verse from Ephesians. Usually the writers of scripture come down hard on sinners–thieves are given warnings to change behavior or face harsh consequences. But here there are no threats or condemnation, just a heartfelt admonition for thieves to stop stealing and begin to work honestly. And why should they do this? So they’ll have something to share with the needy! Instead of being takers, Paul wants the thieves to become givers. His words are a subtle reminder that in every community there are takers and givers, those who focus their lives on accumulating and those whose primary goal is to share. Our world has struggled with this dichotomy for a long time. In our day it seems that the balance has shifted in favor of the takers–massive fortunes are being amassed while charitable giving declines. The more people have, the less inclined they are to share. It’s a sad situation–a sign that something has gotten out of whack. It’s an imbalance that breeds resentment and mistrust and does nothing to further the kingdom of God. Paul saw the danger clearly and made a plea for takers to change their ways. He wasn’t against profiting from honest work but his bottom line was the health of the community. As scripture reminds us, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
Thought for the Day: How often does the amassing of wealth involve thievery?