Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ephesians 4:28-29

He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

In its most basic form, stealing is taking something that does not belong to us by deception or force. No one likes to have their things taken – just come watch my children play with their toys one morning and see what happens when both want the same knick knack!

When I was about eight, the big trend was to wear your sunglasses with three neck cords braided together. My mom took me to Peebles and bought me a new pair of sunglasses, but they only came with one pair. The woman wouldn’t even sell us two others! Well, I slipped two cords into my pocket and headed out the door. When my mother discovered my shoplifting I was compelled to return the hot goods and confess my crime. It made an impression, and I never got my braided cords!

During the refuse workers' strike in New York City a few years ago, one desperate householder gift wrapped his garbage and left it on the seat of his unlocked car. By evening it was gone. Maybe most of us wouldn’t steal as in these two examples, but some people who would never steal a neighbor’s hammer will steal from corporations and institutions without pause. Excessive corporate profits and professional fees become theft when they take more than is fair of another person's goods then justify obscene profits with the “trickle-down" theory. Giving 35 hours of pay for 40 hours of work is stealing, and taking 40 hours of pay for 35 hours of work is as well. Americans run up their credit on non-necessities then take bankruptcy or make deals to pay less than what we owe. There is a sense of entitlement in America – we are owed an education, a nicer house than our parents, a car, and a better life.

We are not only told not steal but to have a purpose of working so that we may share with others. A hardworking Christian who does not share the fruits of her labor with others builds only her own kingdom, not the kingdom of God. Our time and treasure should contribute to society’s good as well as caring for our own families.

Your mama said it best, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Rid yourselves of unwholesome words and corrupting talk. Think before you speak, then speak words that heal, help, and build up all within the sound your voice. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can hurt forever. It would make such a difference in my family if I would put this into practice. When I speak words of encouragement to my five year old, her face lights up and she dances around. But when I speak harshly in anger her countenance instantly falls.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col. 3:17

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