Let the Thief No Longer Steal

Ephesians 4:28
April 7, 2019
Abraham Hong

 

Dear brother, dear sister, dear saint, Jesus loves you so much. He lived for you. He died for you. He rose again for you. And now he is leading you home. Jesus loves you so much.

And we love him back. We listen to him and we obey his commands. We take off the old self and we put on the new self. We grow and we change. And with faith and hope and love, we walk in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This is our love for him.

And one important way that we love him is this: we no longer steal, we work, and we share.

First, we no longer steal. Let the thief no longer steal. Stealing is sin. And our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to no longer steal as thieves.

I am very thankful to God that none of us in this room, to the best of my knowledge, struggle with the temptation to rob a casino or commit grand theft auto or steal corporate secrets by entering into people’s dreams. But let us not dismiss this verse too quickly. You can be a thief in so many other ways. You can be a thief by being dishonest in your tax returns. You can be a thief by illegally consuming certain media or entertainment for free. You can be a thief by slacking off at work and abusing company time. You can be a thief by plagiarizing on a school essay. You can be a thief by taking an insane amount of extra napkins from Starbucks or McDonald’s to keep in your car. Let us be honest - we can be thieves in so many other ways. Let the thief no longer steal.

Stealing is profound and deadly. Stealing is profound because when you steal, you ultimately steal from God himself. Remember: God literally owns everything. And stealing is deadly. According to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 the following people will not inherit the kingdom of God: sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, people who practice homosexuality, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, swindlers, and… thieves.

But the good news of Jesus Christ is this: if you were once a thief, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Jesus died for the sin of stealing.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us no longer steal. Take off the old self.

Second, we work. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands. Work is good. And our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to work and earn a living (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12) and be dependent on no one (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12)

Work is profound and good. Work is profound because when you work, you ultimately work for God himself. Remember: Jesus is literally your king. And work is good. Work itself is not a curse for sin. The hardship and suffering that comes with work is part of the curse for sin. But for us who are in Christ, the hardship and suffering that comes with work is blessed with meaning and purpose.

It is not easy to do work. But the good news of Jesus Christ is this: Jesus did work. Jesus accomplished the perfect work of righteousness. He did that work for us. And Jesus earned the eschatological rest of glory. And he gives that wage, that rest, to us. This glorious salvation is reflected in how time is structured in our lives. Now instead of working on days one through six each week and then resting on the seventh, we start with resting on the first day of the week and then working on days two through seven with joy knowing that our rest is guaranteed and that our work is not in vain anymore.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us work. Put on the new self.

Third, we share. 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. Sharing is caring. And our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to love one another by  sharing with anyone in need.

Sharing is profound and loving. Sharing is profound because sharing is described here in Scripture as a chief end of work. We don’t really work for ourselves anymore. That’s how the world works. Instead, we really work for our spouses, for our children, for our church members and for the poor and needy in church and outside of church. This is a whole new perspective on our jobs and our paychecks. And sharing is loving because when we share, we love our neighbor and we love God. When we share what we have with others, we become a loving community of brothers and sisters in Christ. And according to the stunning words of Matthew 25:31-40, when we feed the hungry, it is as if we feed the Lord. When we welcome the stranger, it is as if we welcome the Lord. When you share with other brothers and sisters in Christ, you are ultimately loving Christ himself.

It is not easy to share and love others. But the good news of Jesus Christ is this: Jesus changes us from stealers to sharers. From getters to givers. You are not your own. You were bought at a price. You now belong to Jesus. Therefore, you are set free from the slavery of living for yourself. And you are now free to live for the sake of others. Jesus has given you eternal life and treasures in the kingdom of heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. And by his grace, though Jesus was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 corinthians 8:9). Do you know why thieves steal and people who don’t like to share don’t share? It’s sad. Thieves steal because they are afraid that other thieves will steal from them. People who don’t like to share don’t share because they believe that other’s won’t share with them. But if you are in Christ, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. If you are in Christ, you have ultimate treasures in him. Therefore, believers in Christ are the most generous and sharing people in the universe. We are not orphans and wanderers of the world. We are children and heirs of the King.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us share with anyone in need. Put on the new self.

I am sincerely proud of you all. There is so much generosity and sacrificial giving going on. There is so much hospitality. There is so much thoughtfulness and willingness. There is so much work. You may not see it, but I do. And God does for sure. I thank God and praise the Lord for the loving community that we have in Christ.

Let us keep going. Let us sow bountifully and reap bountifully as we give what we decide in our hearts, as we give cheerfully, not reluctantly or under compulsion - for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Let us contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality (Romans 12:13).

Let us keep going. Let us be awesome at “distribution.” This seemingly boring supply-chain word was the driving force of the church’s love for one another in Acts (Acts 2:45; 4:32-37). And in Psalm 112, these words were written about the Lord Jesus Christ: “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever” (Psalm 112:9).

Let us keep going. Let us really get excited for diaconal ministry. And let us really get diaconal ministry right. For the Lord gifts his church with ordained men who encourage sharing and wisely and lovingly collect and distribute resources for anyone in need.

Brothers and sisters, all of this is love for our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus loves us so much. And we love him back. And this is how we do it: we no longer steal, we work, and we share. May we be obedient to our King as we wait for his return.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come soon!

End


Summary of Sermon

Jesus loves us so much. And we love him in return. One important way that we love him is this: we no longer steal, we work and we share.

First, we no longer steal. Stealing is sin. Let us be honest and humble and consider the many ways that one can be a thief. Stealing is profound: when you steal, you ultimately steal from God himself. Stealing is deadly: thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Praise the Lord: Jesus died for the sin of stealing!

Second, we work. Work is good. Let us work and earn a living and be dependent on no one. Work is profound: when you work, you ultimately work for God himself. Work is good: contrary to popular belief, work itself is not a curse for sin.

Praise the Lord: Jesus did work in order to save us! We have eternal sabbath rest in him. And our work is not in vain anymore.

Third, we share. Sharing is caring. Let us be giving, generous, hospitable and willing. Sharing is profound: sharing is actually a chief end of our work. Sharing is loving: when we share, others receive our love. And when we do this, we ultimately love Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-40).

Praise the Lord: Jesus changes us from stealers to sharers, from getters to givers. We are now free from the slavery of living for ourselves. And we who are in Christ have treasures in heaven. We therefore have nothing to lose. We are not orphans and wanderers of the world. We are children and heirs of the King.

Praise God for all the sharing that is happening here at Highland. You all are the best. Let us keep going as we wait for the return of Christ our King.

Questions for Discussion & Sharing

Let the thief no longer steal. There are many ways to knowingly and unknowingly be a thief. In what ways might believers in Christ still struggle with the sin of stealing?

In what ways does the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ compel us to no longer steal?

What does work and the earning of a living mean to you? In what ways might the gospel and the command of our Lord change the way that you view your work/career/livelihood/calling?

Sharing is a profound thing. What makes sharing so special? What makes it difficult? What makes it a cheerful activity for us who are in Christ?