Ephesians 4:28
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing good with his own hands, that he may have something to share with the one in need.
Sermons
Various Kinds of LiesDr. Talmage.Ephesians 4:25
A Definition of IndustryI. Barrow, D. D.Ephesians 4:28
Divers Sorts of StealingJ. Pulsford.Ephesians 4:28
Earning a LivelihoodH. W. Beecher.Ephesians 4:28
Honesty and WorkBishop Sherlock.Ephesians 4:28
Honesty in BargainsRaikes.Ephesians 4:28
StealingJ. N. Norton, D. D.Ephesians 4:28
The Joy of IndustryH. Blair, D. D.Ephesians 4:28
The Purpose of WorkClerical WorldEphesians 4:28
The Transforming Power of TruthO. P. Gifford.Ephesians 4:28
The Worship of WorkW. Grant.Ephesians 4:28
Theft of Various KindsVenedien.Ephesians 4:28
Warning Against Theft: a Plea for Honest WorkT. Croskery Ephesians 4:28
Raw Material for Christian UnityR.M. Edgar Ephesians 4:17-32
The Abjured and the Enjoined in Christian LifeD. Thomas Ephesians 4:25-32
VicesR. Finlayson Ephesians 4:25-32
It may seem strange that such an admonition should be addressed to believers. It is no more strange than admonitions against fornication. "Flee fornication" (1 Corinthians 6:18). It is a warning against dishonesty, which often assumes insidious disguises that conceal the true character of the injury done to our neighbors.

I. THEFT IS ONE OF THOSE SINS WHICH OUGHT NOT EVEN TO BE NAMED AMONG CHRISTIANS. It springs out of the deep selfishness of the heart. It is a breach of the great commandment of love - that love "which worketh no ill to his neighbor" - and proves that the world has a great hold upon the heart that can plan the deed of dishonesty.

II. THE REMEDY PRESCRIBED TO PREVENT THEFT IS HONEST WORK. "Let him labor, working with his hands."

1. God is our Employer. He has appointed our work and he requires it at our hands (Acts 20:34; 1 Thessalonians 4:11). It ought to be part of our worship. The gospel does not forbid our making an honest gain, nor does it countenance any indifference to our mere earthly advantage. It gives no encouragement to asceticism.

2. Idleness is inconsistent with Christian life and leads to many dangers. "Idleness occasions poverty, brings men to want, increases their necessities; and then they betake themselves to indirect and unlawful means to supply them." There were persons at Thessalonica who were "working not at all, but were busybodies" (2 Thessalonians 3:11). Christianity gives no encouragement to monkish idleness. It was designed for a busy world.

3. It must be honest work. "Working with his hands the thing which is good." We may not steal, either to enrich others or ourselves. We may not seek our own advantage by oppression or injury to others, or by the gain of callings dishonoring to our Christian profession. "The matter of our alms must be goods righteously gotten; otherwise it is robbery, not righteousness."

4. It is work for the benefit of others as well as ourselves. "That he may have to give to him that needeth." We are not to amass wealth for our own enjoyment, but that we may supply the necessities of others. There are some who cannot work. Their wants we are bound to supply, for no man liveth to himself. "The righteous man giveth and spareth not" (Proverbs 21:26). "Who would not rather be a laborer than a loiterer, seeing the sluggard is so miserable a wretch, but the just man so-happy and able to do good works?" -T.C.







Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
There is the low and coarse species of stealing; there is also a refined species, which is quite as evil. The tradesman who knows that his expenditure is more than the profits of his business will cover, and yet continues to live, as long as he possibly can, on the capital and goods of his creditors, is a thief. "Let him steal no more, but let him labour," and live, like an honest man, on the result of his labour. How many widows and elderly people in our day have been robbed of their all by joint-stock, thieving companies! We blush and fear for our country as often as we think of the lying prospectuses, the loud pretensions and the bold front (like their architecture) of our thieving gentry. Leave your fine houses, strip you of your fine clothes, and inquire by what honest labour you can serve the commonwealth, and earn your own bread. Labour is handsome, but polite thieving is dastardly, infamous. "Thou shalt not steal," neither in the rudest, nor in the politest manner. Steal not thy neighbour's character by private slander. If thou dislikest thy neighbour express it not, lest thou shouldst rob him of the goodwill of him who hears thee. Steal not thy neighbour's time. If you are not concerned to fill up your own time with good works, why should you hinder another? If you steal the time of diligent man, you rob him, and the world too, of a benefit. Steal not the good thoughts of thy neighbour by occupying his attention with thy vain thoughts. Steal not the chaste affections of thy neighbour by leaving upon him the taint of thy foul passion. And before thou allowest thyself by a glance, a touch, or a word, to draw to thee the heart of any creature, inquire whether thou meanest to be true and faithful to that creature for all time? Instead of theft, every species of which is ignoble, the apostle commends to us the nobility of labouring for the benefit of others. Labour that you may have something to give. If you labour for money that money may make you great, money will degrade and ruin you. If you labour for money that you may have money to give to those who need it, you will labour temperately, and never be the slave of money.

(J. Pulsford.)

Some years ago it was proposed to the Duke of Wellington to purchase a farm in the neighbourhood of Strathfieldsaye, which lay contiguous to his estate, and was therefore a valuable acquisition, to which he assented. When the purchase was completed, his steward congratulated him upon having had such a bargain, as the seller was in difficulties and forced to part with it. "What do you mean by a bargain?" said the duke. The other replied, "It was valued at £1,100, and we have got it for £800." "In that case," said the duke, "you will please to carry the extra £300 to the late owner and never talk to me of cheap land again."

(Raikes.)

I. ROBBERS OF THEIR NEIGHBOUR'S PROPERTY.

1. Almost impossible to enumerate all subdivisions of this class of men.(1) Those who commit theft directly.

(a)All those who cheat in measures, weight, quality, or value of goods.

(b)Those who violate the right of their neighbour, such as the advocates of unjust lawsuits and unjust judges.

(c)Those who inconsiderately contract debt, and dishonest bankrupts.

(d)Usurers, etc.(2) Indirectly.

(a)Superiors and officers who do not prevent the infliction of damages if they can prevent it.

(b)All hired men who take their pay without performing the amount of work contracted for.

(c)All who try to extort from mechanics, hired men, etc., some deduction from the stipulated wages.

(d)All dishonest finders.

(e)All idlers, squanderers, and feigned beggars.

2. Their responsibility. We read in the life of St. Medardus that, when his cow was stolen the bell attached to her neck continued ringing, although the thief hid it in a box, and then buried it in the ground, until the cow was restored to her owner. Like this bell, goods unjustly acquired cry incessantly, "Pay what thou owest!"

(1)The duty of restitution is in the highest degree obligatory.

(2)Indispensable.

II. ROBBERS OF THEIR NEIGHBOUR'S GOOD NAME.

1. Different kinds of these.

(1)Detractors.

(2)Calumniators.

(3)Listeners.

2. The guilt. This is manifest, for a man's good name is one of his most precious possessions (Proverbs 22:1).

3. The obligation of restitution it incurs is —

(1)Urgent.

(2)Exceedingly difficult.In regard to the object; for, who can check the notoriety of vices once divulged, who repair the damage sustained? In regard to the hearers, who, according to human nature, are inclined to believe the evil rather than the good. In regard to yourself, since you must everlastingly confess yourself to be a liar and calumniator. III..

1. Such are ROBBERS OF GOD'S GLORY principally the robbers of souls.(1) Those who give scandal by bad example, by words of double meaning, lascivious songs, shameful pictures, books, etc.(2) Seducers who, like Satan, make it their business to ruin souls by commandment, counsel, etc.(3) Negligent superiors and parents, who, like Eli, neglect their duty, and thus bring on the ruin of souls confided to their care.

2. How great is the responsibility! Eye for eye, etc. What will justice require of him who has been the means of casting into hell an immortal soul purchased at an infinite price? Soul for soul!

(Venedien.)

In Ephesus many lived by stealing. In Homer's time, , theft was not discreditable, being ascribed to heroes and gods. The old Spartans taught their boys to steal; the disgrace was in being caught. In low civilizations, now, thieving is common, and in low parts of a high civilization, and, indirectly, by no means uncommon all about us. For instance, in trade, when your milkman gives scant measure, or diluted milk; when shoes are made with paper soles, goods are sold as English, for a higher price, that never saw England. In working, where workmen take six days to do that which ought to be done in three — smoke and discuss politics while paid for working. A young man steals who exhausts himself by amusement or dissipation at night, so as to be unfit for work by day; who drinks, and so confuses his brain that he cannot render fit service; whose body is weary, brain muddled, or mind filled with thoughts of other things, so he can't render full value for pay received. Paul's Christian teaching will push all that out. "Let the stealer steal no more." It demoralizes the stealer. No man can long wrong his fellows without suffering most himself. It demoralizes society, is a constant drain upon the resources and strength of the honest and hard-working. It is not enough to stop stealing; that is but negative. The powers that were perverted must be used positively. The need for food and clothing is perpetual, and if a man can't meet them by stealing, he must by working. Let this same man who lived by his wits now work. The stealer becomes self-supporting. Instead of lessening the common fund for his own support, he adds to it, if he does no more. One by one the powers will fail. Man ought to provide for the days of weakness. On the Fitchburgh road lamps are lighted before the tunnel is reached, but prepared before starting. Get ready for the tunnel of old age and poverty. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; learn of her and be wise." Out of each harvest should come seed corn as well as food. The Christian man is there to work, not only for self-support and for wife and family — this is binding upon man as such — but beyond this, "that he may have to give to him that needeth." The Christian motive for working, then, is to give or distribute. This should be the purpose, the aim, the end of work. Supplying of present need, preparing against future want, clothing, feeding, housing wife and children, and educating children — these motives build up civilization; but Christianity goes deeper, and claims more, puts as the motive of all labour this living principle — ministering to the needy. Some men toil and save and amass for the sake of the money! others for the power, or social standing, or luxuries money gives; others for the wife and children. Christian men ought to work and save for the simple purpose and end of giving to those who have need. Paul's consecration to Christ shaped all his life. The captain lays his course, and crosses the ocean with Liverpool in his thought. Coal is consumed and machinery driven night and day for that one purpose. Christians on the sea of life ought to subordinate all work to this one grand purpose, "To give to him that needeth." Some prefer to give as they get, and die poor. Some save up to endow great institutions. The purpose is the same. It is said of Peabody that he never spent more than three thousand dollars a year on himself. All that is needed is simply enough to keep the body and mind as the producing and distributing centre at the highest working point; anything more burdens and distracts. The reasons are two for this line of life.

1. It does the greatest good to the greatest number, ministers to the enjoyment of the worker by bringing self-forgetfulness — the highest point of happiness always — and helps the needy.

2. It makes life Divine, Christ-like, God-like. "God so loved the world that He gave His only- begotten Son," etc.

(O. P. Gifford.)

Probably the most singular funeral sermon ever heard was that which the eccentric Rowland Hill once delivered in London over the remains of his favourite servant, Roger. "Many persons present," remarked the preacher, looking around on the anxious faces turned towards him, "were acquainted with the deceased, and have had it in their power to observe his character and conduct. They can bear witness that for a considerable number of years he proved himself a perfectly honest, sober, industrious, and religious man, faithfully performing, so far as lay in his power, the duties of his station in life, and serving God with constancy and zeal. Yet this very man was once a robber on the highway." You may readily imagine what astonishment these words produced, and amidst what profound silence the preacher thus went on: "More than thirty years ago he stopped me on the public road, and demanded my money. Not at all intimidated, I argued with him; I asked him what could induce him to pursue so iniquitous and dangerous a course of life. His answer was, 'I have been a coachman; I am out of place, and I cannot get a character; I am unable to find any employment, and am therefore obliged to do this or to starve.' I told him where I lived, and asked him to call and see me. He promised he would, and he kept his word; I talked further with him, and offered to take him into my own service. He consented, and ever since that period he has served me faithfully, and not me only, but he has faithfully served his God. Instead of finishing his life in a public and ignominious manner, with a depraved and hardened heart, as he probably would have done, he died in peace, and we trust, prepared for the society of just men made perfect. Till this day the extraordinary circumstance I have now related has been confined to his heart and mine. I have never mentioned it to my dearest friend." The practice of stealing prevails in all pagan communities. You will find many curious instances of dexterity in theft in such books as "Cook's Voyage," and others of more recent date. We ought to learn to call things by their right names. If a poor, half-starved fellow in his shirt sleeves, shivering on a cold day, slyly takes a fustian coat worth five dollars, which is hanging out in front of a clothing store, it is spoken of by everyone as stealing, and the culprit enjoys a few years of retirement in prison to remind him of his dreadful breach of the law. On the other hand, let a so-called gentleman in broadcloth run away with fifty thousand dollars from some institution in which he had an office, and how does the world regard him? As a thief? By no means. He is only a defaulter! And yet can you see any difference between the two cases, except it be this, that the thief in broadcloth is the worst? Many acts of theft are committed out of pure thoughtlessness. Those boys who went up the river in a boat, last summer, and stopped at a watermelon patch and took a good many, and destroyed a good many more, what were they but thieves? I cannot think of a better way of applying this important subject, than to relate a little circumstance which once happened in the Sandwich Islands. A good missionary had preached a sermon on the sin of dishonesty, hoping it might not be lost upon his hearers. The very next morning, on opening the door of his bamboo hut, he was surprised to see a great many of the islanders seated on the ground, waiting for him. The missionary kindly asked why they had called upon him so early, when one of them replied, "We have not been able to sleep all night, after hearing what you said yesterday. When we were pagans, we thought it right to steal if we could do it without being found out. Yesterday you told us that God commanded people not to steal, and as we wish to mind Him we have now brought back all the things we ever took." One man then lifted up an axe, a hatchet, or chisel, and exclaimed, "I stole this from the carpenter of such a ship," naming the vessel; others handed back a saw or knife, and a great variety of other things, making the same candid confession. Then they insisted that the missionary should take these stolen goods, and keep them until he might have an opportunity of returning them to the owner.

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

I. As to the PROHIBITION, "Let him that stole, steal no more." By this we are forbidden the use of all such means, for our own maintenance and support, as are injurious to our neighbour.

II. Thing to be considered in the text, "BUT RATHER LET HIM LABOUR." We generally say that God has made nothing to no purpose; and yet, pray tell me what the rich man is made for, if his business be only to eat and drink, and spend his estate? Can you justify the wisdom of Providence in sending such a creature into the world? There is work cut out for all creatures, from the highest to the lowest; all things in nature have their proper business, and are made to serve some wise end of God.

III. I proceed now to the third thing, which is THE LIMITATION, by which we are confined to work only the things which are good, foregoing all unlawful means of supporting ourselves. From hence it follows that you must be confined to some work which may answer to the wants or desires of life. Now the things which men want are either the necessaries, or conveniences, or pleasures of life; and all trades or callings are subservient to one or other of these. The next thing to be considered is, what is the measure of this duty; whether we are obliged to labour merely to supply our own wants and necessities, or whether there be any other duties incumbent on us, which must likewise be answered by our labour and toil? This the apostle has settled in the

IV. and last place, enjoining us to labour "THAT WE MAY HAVE TO GIVE TO HIM THAT NEEDETH." So that the end we ought to aim at by our labour and industry is to enable us, not only to support ourselves and our families, but to be contributors likewise to the wants and necessities of such as are not able to work and labour for themselves. Charity has no measure but the wants of others and our own ability. And hence it appears that by the apostle's rule you are bound as well to thrift and frugality as to labour; and therefore, such as work hard and spend freely all they get are highly to be blamed, and may be found at last to have spent out of the poor's stock, since by squandering their own they come at last to a necessity of living upon charity, by which means others are straitened that they may be supplied.

(Bishop Sherlock.)

Clerical World.
The idle members of a community are its greatest curses.

I. THE WRONG IDEA OF WORK.

1. It is wrong idea that work is wholly a curse, to be escaped if possible. See the folly of no work.

(1)Powers wasted.

(2)Time wasted.

(3)Temptations strengthened.

2. It is a wrong idea that the end of work is to amass wealth:

(1)For show.

(2)For personal pleasures and gratifications.Is not this the Widely prevalent, if not predominant thought in our day?

II. THE SIGHT IDEA OF WORK.

1. To produce something beneficial to man: "Working with his own hands that which is good:" "that which belongs to the category of what is good and honest...There may, perhaps, be also involved the notion of what is beneficial, and not detrimental to others." A statue, a picture, a poem, a book, an article of clothing honestly made — all this is "making with our hands something good."

2. To obtain the satisfaction of imperative personal needs.

3. To give of our superfluity to the wants of others, whether bodily or spiritual.

(Clerical World.)

It is a singular circumstance that this stealing is put in antithesis to work: as if there were a strong implication that some men do not work, and do not get an honest livelihood. Those, whatever may have been their course, who have been obtaining a livelihood in an improper way, are enjoined to obtain it in a proper way. And what is that proper way? "Labour: earn your livelihood; work with your hands that which is good." Consider what earning one's livelihood implies; what thought more and more, as competition makes it necessary; what ingenuity, that is schoolmaster to man himself; what patience; what faith in the future; what promptness; what punctuality; what exactness; what truth; what honesty; what self-denial. Earning a man's livelihood in the competitions of modern society is not so easy a thing. It is that which is to be accomplished by bringing into exercise almost every one of the manly virtues: virtues on the lower plane, to be sure, but virtues none the less. The necessity of earning one's livelihood is also an effectual guard, in the greatest number of instances, from those temptations which come with leisure; with abundance; with what are called "fortunate circumstances" in life. For, although with labour there may be rudeness, and although with the leisure which labour has there may be gross indulgence, the tendencies are towards such an equilibrium of the animal spirits and the mental condition, that it is easier for a man that works to avoid evil. Not only is he healthier — and health itself is a condition of morality; not only is he happier — and happiness is a co-labourer with virtue; but he is defended from many of those temptations which come from indolence. Not having enough to do to tire himself out heartily, has been the ruin of many and many a young man. It is a matter of great complaint, often, that one has to rise with the sun, or before it, in winter; that he hardly has time to eat; and that at night he is so tired that he is glad to seek his couch and fall asleep. There may be too much of that, to be sure; but too little of it has sent ten thousand young men to the pit. The necessity of a man's earning his own livelihood is one of those great natural, moral educations which is established in nature.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Let me illustrate my meaning by some examples. What can be more secular than painting, sculpture, or architecture? yet many painters, sculptors, and architects have sanctified their brush, their chisel, their mallet, by employing them in the service of God. Some have sanctified their voices by singing the gospel as much as others in preaching it. And what is more secular or earthly than money? yet many have sanctified it by employing it in the service of God and for the good of souls. Ah! it is not merely the thing we do, but the end for which, and the spirit in which, we do it, that makes it religious, or an act of worship. Now let us remember that whatever our work may be, whether we be servants or masters, God is our Employer. He has appointed our work.

(W. Grant.)

Industry doth not consist merely in action, for that is incessant in all persons; our mind being like a ship in the sea, if not steered to some good purpose by reason yet tossed by the waves of fancy, or driven by the winds of temptation some-whither; but the direction of our mind to some good end, without roving or flinching, in a straight and steady course, drawing after it our active powers in execution thereof, doth constitute industry.

(I. Barrow, D. D.)

Industry is not only the instrument of improvement, but the foundation of pleasure; for nothing is so opposite to the true enjoyment of life as the relaxed and feeble state of an indolent mind. He who is a stranger to industry may possess, but he cannot enjoy. It is labour only that gives a relish to pleasure. It is the indispensable condition of our possessing a sound mind in a sound body. Idleness is so inconsistent with both, that it is hard to determine whether it be a greater foe to virtue, or to health and happiness. Inactive as it is in itself, its effects are fatally powerful. Though it appears a slowly flowing stream, yet it undermines all that is stable and flourishing. It is like water, which first putrefies by stagnation, and then sends up noxious vapours, filling the atmosphere with death.

(H. Blair, D. D.)

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