Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need (Ephesians 4:28).
Walking down the village road in Kangundo, my wife and I came upon a woman selling what the British call “chips” and we Americans call “French fries.” We asked the price, counted out the appropriate coins, added a tip, and went on our happy way.
Later in the day, a friend mentioned seeing us buy the chips and then berated the seller. Unknown to us, the woman had purposely and significantly overcharged us. She justified herself on the basis of the color of our skin. One price for Kenyans, a much higher price for Mzungus.
Jesus commands that we Do not steal (Mark 10:19). Stealing is taking what rightly belongs to someone else through the use of cunning or deceit. Greed is the unquenchable desire within the human heart to have more than we already possess or need to survive. Greed is a powerful motivation for stealing.
There are two ways of making a living: stealing and working.
Most people eagerly agree that it’s wrong to steal, but then we make excuses to do it anyway. “He’s rich and won’t miss the little I take” or “Everyone cheats on their taxes.”
We’d also agree that working an honest job is good.
It’s much harder to convince someone that it’s also sinful to work to satisfy our greed, but that’s what the Bible teaches.
The Bible says that as Christians, we are to work hard at honest labor – not so we can buy more things – but so we may have something to give him who has need (Eph 4:28). Let that sit in your mind for a moment.
God’s purpose in your life is more than being a good boy by not stealing. His call is greater than keeping yourself busy with honest labor. God’s purpose is that you work not only for yourself or your family, but so you can give to others in need.
Someone has well said: “Work long to earn long to save long to give long.“