“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” Ephesians 4:28
Have you ever wondered whether or not the people that you work with know that you’re a Christian? Better yet, has anyone ever been surprised when they found out that you were? Does your “walk” accurately represent your “talk?” It’s a fair question, and it’s one that we all must ask ourselves on this side of heaven because one day, God will determine the answer for us on the other side. Does every part of your life represent the God you say you follow?
Paul continues in his detailed instruction to the Ephesians in verse 28 on how to live the Christian life well. One of the things I love about Paul is his thoroughness on all matters, including work ethic. He could have chosen to only address the big issues, you know, the “hot topics” like sex, drugs, and alcohol. Rather, he not only tells us what the new life in Christ should look like, but he also models it. The matter at hand today is that of honest, hard work. Similar to our current times, there were people in Paul’s day that wanted to benefit from the labor of others without contributing. We call them free-loaders today, but whatever the title we give to it, God calls it theft, dishonest, and ultimately sin.
I’ve asked myself countless times what it looks like to be in this world but not of it. James 4:4 tells us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. So, how then are we to be in the world but not of it? It all comes down to how we live our lives and how we represent Jesus Christ in doing so. Because we have a tendency to focus on the majors or the “big sins”, I also believe that we then have a tendency to minimize what we deem as smaller, insignificant issues. The problem with this mentality is that there is a world of people watching our every move. They see when we cut corners to get ahead. They look for integrity in our work. And they determine who Christ is based on what they see in us. When we offer anything less than our best on the job, whatever that “job” may be, we are being dishonest and stealing. That is what Paul is referencing when he calls us to “honest work.” Anything less than honest work is not fitting in the life of the believer.
Our honest, hard work is not only meant to reflect an accurate representation of Jesus to others, but it’s also for the benefit of those who are in need. Honest, hard work produces good results. It enables one to provide for oneself as well as one’s family, but it also gives one the ability to provide for others that have a need. One of the greatest blessings that my husband and I have been able to share in is the giving of our resources to meet the needs of others. We know several single moms that have very real financial struggles, and there have been many times that we’ve been able to help. While there are many needs that we aren’t able to meet, we do our best to be aware of the ones that we can.
The new life in Christ is marked by honesty and integrity in work ethic, and generosity of what has been given to us. Not only should we be known for honest, hard work, but in addition to that, we should be known for our continual pursuit of helping those who are in need. Are we? Are you? Does integrity characterize your time on the job? Does generosity characterize the stewardship of your resources? Because it should. The new life in Christ is marked by these things. We have been called to a higher standard. We have been commanded to represent Jesus well. Don’t forget that we have an audience.