Ephesians 4:28 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.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
There are many ways in which people steal from others. There are those who walk into a store and look around to see if anyone is watching and then they will take an item and stick it into their pocket and walk out with it. I believe stores are doing more things to try to prevent this from happening, but I do not know if they have been able to eliminate this method of theft. There are also those who “sample” things in the store and think it is acceptable. Some stores have signs up warning that this is a form of theft.
A person might walk into a store with a weapon and demand cash and take it by force. There are also the many types of lotteries that feed on the greed of others. They use temptation as the means of getting a person to give up their money for a ticket or some other method of gambling. This is not honest earnings by the gambling establishment, nor is it honest earnings for the person who claims to win from it.
The Bible tells us that Judas was a thief. He took from the money that was donated to Jesus Christ and the disciples and he stole it for his own benefit. He eventually made a deal with the religious leaders to betray Jesus, but that was his final downfall. Things did not go as he planned and he then went to the wrong place to try to fix the problem and in the end he took his own life.
There are those who rob God. They are not saved and they do not tithe or give offerings to the local church. The born again Christian will see the importance of tithing and also of giving offerings as God leads.
God tells us in verse 28 that the thief needs to stop stealing. This again is in the context of the one who has accepted that worthy calling spoken of in verse 1 and further explained in this chapter. The child of God does not need to steal. He needs to work with his hands to earn the money he needs to purchase the things that are necessary. We see here that not only will the working man have enough to look after his own needs, but he will also have to give to others that have a need. The book of Acts shows us the care that the saints had for one another in the first century. The local church is important in many ways. Jesus Christ showed us the care that we need to have for others. All of that care is centred on the truth of God’s Word. The local church is the place that God has designed to show the world the love of God and the blessings of walking with God.
Verse 29 deals with the mouth. Paul is not talking here of the food we eat. He is talking about the words that come out of our mouths. Lost people think they are more effective communicators if they can curse and swear at times. Those who stoop to this method of communication show their lack of intelligence. No godly person in the Bible ever swore. Peter cursed in order to try to prove that he was not one of Jesus’ disciples. That should tell us that cursing is not a mark of a born again Christian.
Our words need to be for the purpose of edification. That certainly does not happen when a person is using corrupt language. Corrupt language does not build anyone up. It defiles the speaker and the listener. It is becoming more and more common place to hear corrupt communication in news reports and in general conversation. That does not mean that God has become more accepting of this. It simply shows that man is becoming more and more depraved all the time.
God tells us that our speech needs to be such that it will minister grace to the hearer. The word translated as “grace” means: “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.” Corrupt communication does none of that. People might laugh at it, but it does not produce joy or pleasure. It leaves the person with guilt and it grieves the heart of the person who knows the Lord and seeks to serve Him.
In verse 30 we are commanded not to grieve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead and He is the One Who seals those who are saved unto the day of redemption. He is the One Who gives that assurance to the saved person of their salvation. He is the One Who is working in the heart of the saved person to perfect that person. I know that before I was saved I thought it was important to use corrupt communication to try to fit in with the lost crowd. It was interesting to notice that when I got saved, God took the desire to curse and swear away from me. He changed my nature and it would have been a contradiction for me to claim to be saved and yet curse like the ungodly. I can express myself effectively without ever having to stoop to gutter language.
God commands me not to grieve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never lead me to lie, to steal, to use corrupt communication. He will always lead me to glorify God. Thus when I, as a child of God, choose an action that is contrary to the will and Word of God, I am grieving the Holy Spirit. If I am saved, I will know I am grieving the Holy Spirit and He will move me to confess that as sin and to stop committing the sin as well. If I ignore His work in my heart, God will chasten me to bring about the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
Because God loves His children, He will not allow them to defile themselves. He saves us to glorify Him. When we participate in sin, we do not glorify Him.
In verse 31 God gives further examples of things that need to go if we are saved. Bitterness will hurt the person that is bitter more than it will hurt the one he or she is bitter towards. The Bible teaches us the importance of communication. If I have something against my brother I need to go and speak to my brother and seek to resolve the issue. If it is a self-perceived problem, I need to take it to the Lord and confess it as sin and forsake it. If I am saved, God will be working in my heart through His Word and through the faithful preaching and teaching of my pastor to help me to deal with life in a godly manner.
Wrath and anger are common sins that we as people can be guilty of. We have addressed this previously in this chapter. God is reminding us again of dealing with our emotions properly. God’s people will be able to draw others to the truth when they have a right spirit about them.
Clamour has to do with loud crying. It is the noise that you hear when you observe a protest taking place. There is usually someone who leads the crowd in some type of a chant. The chant is designed to stir up the crowd but it does not solve the problem. The religious leaders led the people in crying out “crucify him, crucify him” in the trial against Jesus. They stirred up the people but they did not resolve anything. They were not any better off after Jesus Christ was led away and crucified. Many of them carried that shame and guilt and anger on in the book of Acts and still tried to destroy the truth. Some were saved and churches were established but the angry religious leaders continued to try to stir the people up to clamour against Paul and others.
Evil speaking also has to do with those slanderous words that we express to try to silence the truth. The Bible shows us that exposing liars and false teachers is necessary. That is not evil speaking. Evil speaking is when someone tries to slander someone who is doing the right thing. It is what the Pharisees and other religious leaders were guilty of in Jesus’ day and in the book of Acts as well. Saul, later called Paul, was guilty of evil speaking prior to being saved. He had letters from the religious leaders to put people of “this way” in prison. He consented to the death of Stephen. After he was saved, that changed. He exposed false teachers, but he was not guilty of evil speaking.
Malice has to do with ill will towards others and not ashamed of breaking the law. Our politicians and medical officials and even the police are not ashamed of breaking the law these days. They will try to intimidate and silence those who do not bow to their ungodly dictates. They are setting a very poor example for others. It is obvious there are few if any Christians in that crowd. A true Christian needs to put those things away.
In verse 32 we see the right way to live. We need to be kind to one another and tenderhearted. We need to have genuine care and concern for others. I am still learning this. I have not always been very good at this, but God has been gracious and merciful to me and shown me sometimes through chastening the need to listen to Him and be a godly testimony. As His child, I must follow His way. As His child, I can follow His way and I know that in my heart that is my desire because He has changed my heart.
We have talked of forgiveness in the past. Christians cannot hold grudges. We will wrong others at times, and we need them to forgive us when we confess our sin and ask forgiveness. Jesus warns us that if we will not forgive those who wrong us, He will also not forgive us. Forgiveness is forgetting. Peter wanted to know how often he needed to forgive another brother.
Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Forgiveness is not a copout for sinning. Forgiveness is offered for genuine repentance. Those who want forgiveness for the moment but have no intention of changing will not find forgiveness from God. God commands us to forgive others. We will never find a perfect person on this earth. If we set ourselves up as some pious individual, God has a way to show us that we are frauds.
I am thankful that God has forgiven me of my sins. He saved me through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and He has forgiven me many times since I was saved. I would be in big trouble if that were not the case. I am thankful for the peace of God that dwells in the child of God when He forgives.
Today is the Lord’s day. It is the day to go to a true church to learn of the true God and for those who are saved, to fellowship with other saints. It is also a time to be together to encourage the lost to turn to the true God and be saved.