Wednesday, February 1, 2017

TWZ 4: Ephesians 4:28's work and give

In Ephesians 4:28, Paul writes: "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 verse is in the middle of a longer passage, where Paul has introduced the old man vs. the new man (4:22-24)-- and then a long list of attitudes and behaviors (4:25-32).

The verse has some basic and obvious applications-- and a lot more beyond that. 
a.) Don't steal. Duh! 
b.) Work with your hands-- doing something useful (vs. stealing or killing time). This takes us back to the Creation Mandate in 1:26-28 and the first institution given to Adam-- his Kingdom work, whether work, vocation, family, ministry, etc. 
c.) Be charitable. Duh!

The focus here is clearly market work: producing something of value, particularly in a context that generates income. Paul doesn't talk about using the resulting money to spend or save-- although those are commended elsewhere in Scripture; his focus here is in helping others. (In the context of the passage, helping others-- and earlier in chapter 4, "unity"-- is not so easily connected to spending and saving.)

This week, I was able to buy a reliable beater (a 2000 Toyota Camry) from a friend who operates a car shop. One of his mechanics is a young Christian man who refurbishes cars for a profit (and probably, for kicks). We paid a good bit more than its "value" on But I can trust this car more than the average "used car"-- and even if we overpaid, I don't mind doing that to support "a good guy", or especially, a disciple of Jesus. Because we have been blessed and faithful, we have resources to bless people like that. And in God's economy, it's quite likely that this transaction will be a blessing to both of us. (See: Dt 8:4, 29:5-- whether fully literal or somewhat figurative.)

In addition, Tonia and I have always decided to be modest with our car purchases. (Aside from our two vans, I don't think we've spent $30K for all the cars we've ever bought.) Joseph has a soccer coach from Haiti-- whose wife and daughter just came here on a visa. Unfortunately, his car's heater does not work-- tough on Haitians in a So. IN winter! Besides that, his beater needs a lot of work-- and by his account (and his mechanic's), it's not worth the investment. So, we were able to loan him my former car (a 2004 Mitsubishi Galant) to get him (at least) through the winter.  If we'd had a really nice car, I wouldn't have had a beater to lend him-- and most likely, I wouldn't have had the resources to bless him.

Make decisions-- with your work and your spending/saving-- so that you can bless others.


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