More Than a Thief

Car Thieves

photo courtesy Elliot Brown

Today while I was walking, I listened to one of my brother Brandon’s sermons that he records and posts on the internet (a podcast). You can find all of his messages at the church website. Incidentally, his wife Jamie does all of the artwork for the “album covers” you see for each message. They’re pretty awesome too. She did my logo for my business website also.

So anyway, he was preaching from Ephesians 4. Something he said while discussing Ephesians 4:28 really struck me.

28 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. (NIV)

What he pointed out is that it doesn’t stop at saying “stop stealing”. It goes on to say that you must go beyond that and actually do something useful and share with those in need. In other words, just stopping the sin you are committing is not enough. As a Christian, you are called to something greater. You need to go beyond that and and actually swing the pendulum the other way.

Zacchaeus actually provides a good example of this in Luke 19. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. They were notorious for collecting far beyond the required tax and becoming rich men from it. When Jesus came to his house, Zacchaeus became a changed man. He didn’t just vow to stop collecting more than his fair share. He went above and beyond. He vowed to give half of his possessions to the poor and to repay anyone he had cheated four times what he had taken. That is what Paul is talking about in Ephesians 4:28.

A contradiction to that is found in the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18. He had come to Jesus to find out what he must do to obtain eternal life. Jesus told him to go and give all he had to the poor. The man was unable to do that and went away sad. See, it wasn’t really about giving everything away. Jesus could see that this was not a changed man. A changed man would have offered up his wealth to help others. He would have already been doing these things.

This has really given me something to think about. It’s not enough to just overcome my sin. I need to go well beyond that as a changed person and become the opposite of the sinner. I need to become a champion for the good. I need to help others overcome their sin. I need to repay all I’ve done and more. Is there anything like that in your life? What are you going to do about it?

  • Our new church up here in snow country is really good at this. (I realize it is not just a group activity but also an individual choice – – – but how nice for the church to offer help in this area.) Just last week, through the prompting of our pastoral staff, the community churches began opening their doors for warm places for homeless to sleep. They are given a hot supper, breakfast, and sandwiches for lunch.

    Also, we’re forming at least 4 different teams to go to care centers with Sunday afternoon services.

    I’m so pleased to be able to join in these efforts.

    And this church is TINY – – – more evidence of what a few can do when they listen and obey.