“Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need” (Eph 4:28). For quite some time, this verse has informed my approach to work.
Through our work, God has given us both the opportunity and the responsibility to redirect wealth from the world’s system to God’s kingdom. That is, one of the purposes in earning money through our work is to reinvest our earnings into the needs of those around us. Have you ever thought about work that way? This is literally “laboring, performing what is good, in order to have something to share with the one who has a need.”
What does this look like in action? On the work side, it behooves us to do our work with excellence. Of course, we are not always promised higher pay for better work. But generally speaking, excellence in our work will lead to greater income. Likewise, as much as we have influence over it, we should not sell ourselves short; giving our services away for less than they are worth. Again, we do not always have control over this, but there is no error in seeking our highest income potential.
Because, as the Bible makes clear in several passages and parables, we are not working to just accumulate for our own comfort. Accumulating wealth for accumulating sake is never condoned. Building bigger barns to hoard our wealth is a great foolishness to quote our Savior. So aspiring to greater income only has value as we share the results generously.
This leads to the sharing side of the equation; a side that is just as important, or more so, than the earning side. And this sharing side can take many forms.
It may be what is thought of as traditional philanthropic giving to church ministry or missions or meeting social needs. But it may also be meeting practical needs for our family and friends. Giving an extended family member a car. Buying groceries for your neighbor who is between jobs. Absorbing the cost of hospitality in your home. Acts of kindness and generosity, large or small, all fit into this category of redirecting wealth from the world’s system to God’s kingdom.
And God’s kingdom is also right there in your immediate family. It may be helping your adult child buy a car to allow them to get back and forth to their new job. It may be paying for college or specialized training for your teenager. It may even be remodeling your kitchen to raise the joy factor in your home. There is so much variety available to us to reinvest in people with our work earnings.
I just want to emphasize again that “sharing with him who has need” is as variable as the people God has brought into our lives. It is as creative as you can conceive it to be. It is most of all an attitude of generosity. And it is a great motivator to go to work and “labor so that we have something to share”.