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What's Wrong



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.


Ephesians 4:28


There’s lots of discussion about what’s right and wrong today. In the middle of all the violence, shootings, threats, and anger, it seems that people can’t agree on what’s right or wrong. We can’t seem to agree on what’s OK and what’s not OK.


But there are a few things that most people can agree on that are wrong. Stealing for example, that’s seems pretty straightforward. Stealing is wrong and shouldn’t be done. Additionally, punishment given out for stealing is ok. Or is it?


  • More than 500,000 shoplifting incidents occur every day.

  • $35 million worth of goods are stolen each day.

  • $13 billion worth of goods are stolen a year.

  • 10% of the US's population are shoplifters[1].


I know what you’re thinking, this must be a modern thing. Surely, it wasn’t always that way. Stealing must have been a crime in the good old days. Well, as a matter of fact it wasn’t universally a crime. In some places it was allowed, even encouraged.


But God’s view is different. Wildly different. How are we to treat others? Like we want to be treated. And which one of us wants to be stolen from? Raise your hand if you think it’s OK for someone to break into your house and make off with your jewelry? Or who think’s if fine and dandy for someone to hack into your bank account and take all your money?


Not to go too far out on a ledge, but I’m certain that the answer is no one.


I clearly remember when my parents’ house was broken into. The thing that really broke my mom’s heart is that they took her jar of old silver dollars. After the police forms were filed and nothing ever turned up, their house turned into Fort Knox. Multiple deadbolts were put on every door. The windows were replaced with shatterproof glass. They lived in fear for many years.


Paul’s not addressing the person who was stealing in the past. This is not addressed to people that stole one time and then stopped. No, this is addressed to people that are stealing right now. People in the church were stealing.


God’s instruction to them is a simple, straightforward three-step plan.


  • Step One – Stop Stealing. That’s simple enough. Not to stop stealing when you have more money. Not to stop stealing after your next paycheck. No, stop stealing right here and now.

  • Step Two – Start Working. Use your hands to work, earn money, create something of value. Instead of using your hands to steal, use your hands to do something, make something, earn money.

  • Step Three – Start Giving. When you earn money, start doing the opposite of stealing – giving. Work hard and long enough to be changed from a taker and into a giver


I love this! The simplicity. The straightforward truth that transforms a life. God doesn’t just want us to stop doing things. It’s not just all about the “no” but to move forward into the “yes.” To change from the “stop” and then move onto the “go.”


We’re all on this path of life. We all need to change. And God doesn’t make us guess about what to do. He’s very clear.


In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’


Acts 20:35


Jesus was and is the ultimate giver. He gave himself for us. He paid our eternal debt. He couldn’t just sit by and watch us all literally go to hell. No, he stepped in and gave.


God is a giver and we’re to be transformed into givers too. And since we are to become more and more like God, we are to become more and more giving in our lives. Giving is more than just money. It’s giving our time to his people. Giving our attention to those in trouble, to those who are hurting. Giving our skills and talents for his kingdom.


Giving is to be at or near the top of our priority list. Anything else is against who God is. And that’s just plain sin.


Noodling Questions


  • Where has God told you to stop something and replace it with something good?

  • How hard are you willing to work to help the weak? Why?

  • How much has God given to forgive your sins. What’s the impact of his giving?

[1] National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP)

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