Ephesians 4:28-29

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 18, 2006


A few weeks ago we looked at how Paul reminded us that God has done a work in our lives, changing us.  We are to learn to “put off” the “old man” and to “put on” the “new man”.

It’s a choice we need to make regularly in our life.

What are you going to put on in the morning when you wake up?  What will your wardrobe look like?

But then the question arises, just what does the “new man” look like?  What are the things we’re supposed to “put off”?

Last week we looked at some of what that looked like.  We continue …

:28 Let him who stole steal no longer,

stealklepto (“kleptomaniac”) to steal; to commit a theft



Greed takes many shapes and forms.
Some people have lost the sense of “what’s mine” and “what’s yours”. They feel that if they can get their hands on it, it’s theirs.
It’s not very smart to steal …

A guy walked into a little corner store with a shot gun and demanded all the cash from the cash drawer. After the cashier put the cash in a bag, the robber saw a bottle of scotch that he wanted behind the counter on the shelf. He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well, but he refused and said "Because I don't believe you are over 21." The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him because he didn't believe him. At this point the robber took his drivers license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk. The clerk looked it over, and agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and he put the scotch in the bag. The robber then ran from the store with his loot. The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and address of the robber that he got off the license. They arrested the robber two hours later.

For some who live in America, it’s the welfare mentality, the Entitlement mentality.
They feel that somehow because they live in America, that they are “owed”.

Years ago we had a family in the church that that seemed to have this attitude. It took us a couple of years to figure out that the husband of the family never intended to work, and they had no problem asking people in the church to help them out financially. When one family took them into their home and had several thousands of dollars of things stolen, we confronted them. Their reply? “You rich people owe it to us.”

For others in America, they make a lot of money, but they cry that the government takes too much in taxes.  In reality many are just greedy. They want more and they want it all for themselves.
The “old man” is about greed.
Monkey Treats
Monkey trappers in North Africa have a clever method of catching their prey. A number of gourds are filled with nuts (monkey treats) and firmly fastened to a branch of a tree. Each has a hole just large enough for the unwary monkey to stick his forepaw into it. When the hungry animal discovers this, he quickly grasps a handful of nuts, but the hole is too small for him to withdraw his clenched fist. And he doesn’t have enough sense to open up his hand and let go in order to escape, so he is easily taken captive.
Our greed, whether it comes in the form of stealing or in the form of hoarding, is going to keep us trapped unless we learn to let go.

:28 but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good,

laborkopiao to grow weary, tired, exhausted; to labor with wearisome effort, to toil


Hard work

I remember in high school it was ridiculed as “The Puritan Work-Ethic”.  I’d rather that we call it “the Bible Work Ethic”.
God is in favor of hard work.
I know that not everyone is physically capable of work, but we need to be careful that we don’t slip into the mentality that we’re “owed”.
(2 Th 3:6-10 NKJV)  But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. {7} For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; {8} nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, {9} not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. {10} For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
Warren Wiersbe writes:
Every Jewish rabbi was taught a trade, for, said the rabbis, “If you do not teach your son a trade, you teach him to be a thief.” The men that God called in the Scriptures were busy working when their call came. Moses was caring for sheep; Gideon was threshing wheat; David was minding his father’s flock; and the first four disciples were either casting nets or mending them. Jesus Himself was a carpenter. [1]
It’s not wrong for a disabled person to be collecting Social Security – I think that’s a blessing we have in our country.
But don’t let yourself slip into the frame of mind that you don’t need to contribute.

:28 that he may have something to give him who has need.

thathina that, in order that, so that … there’s a reason for work hard …


A heart of giving

The reason we are to work hard, is so we might have more to give.
I think that for most Americans who work hard, they work hard so they can have more for themselves.
Paul says we ought to work hard so we have more to give to those in need.
The “new man” is one that gives.
At the beginning of the book of Ephesians, we talked about the organization of the book: “Sit – Walk – Stand”. The idea of the first three chapters was to teach us all about the things that God has done for us, things we learn as we “sit” in the heavenlies and look at what God has done for us. Those things become the foundation of the section we’re in now, where we learn how to “walk”, how to live our life. The things God wants to teach us about living life aren’t isolated from what He’s done for us. They’re based on what God has done for us.
We need to learn to be a people who give because we have been changed by a God who gives.

If you don’t know how to give, you don’t know the God who gives.  The first chapter of Ephesians is all about the incredible spiritual blessings that God has given to us in Christ.

(Eph 2:4-8 NKJV) But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, {5} even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), {6} and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, {7} that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. {8} For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

God’s grace is all about what God gives us. It’s all about what God has done for us despite what we deserve.

The greatest example of God’s giving nature is seen in Jesus.
(John 3:16 NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave …
(2 Cor 8:9 NKJV) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
We even see it in Old Testament times where God teaches people to give.
Elijah was living in the middle of a drought and a famine. His first source of food had dried up and it was time to see God provide in a different way.
(1 Ki 17:8-16 NKJV) Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, {9} "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."

Notice that God is the one behind what this widow is going to be giving.

{10} So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." {11} And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." {12} So she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." {13} And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. {14} "For thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.'"

Elijah’s words might sound a little like those televangelists on TV, but the difference was that Elijah was actually telling the truth – he was letting her know that God was promising to take care of this woman, but on one condition: She learn to “give” first. If God is the one prompting you to give, you don’t need to be afraid of the consequences. Just be sure that God is the one prompting you, and not some slick con artist or even a well meaning, but carnal Christian.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, trying to teach them about giving:

(2 Cor 9:6-8 NKJV) But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. {7} So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. {8} And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

If you learn to give according to God’s promptings, God promises to take care of you.

So what happened to the widow in Zarephath?
{15} So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. {16} The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.
God’s desire is for His people to be a giving people.  Just like Him.

:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth,

corruptsapros rotten, putrefied; corrupted by one and no longer fit for use, worn out; of poor quality, bad, unfit for use, worthless


Corrupt words

The words that come from our mouths are only a reflection of what goes on in our heart.
(Luke 6:45 NKJV)  "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

If we’ve been changed by Jesus, the change ought to go down to the core of our being, and that is shown by the words that come from our mouths.

I think we generally think of things like using bad words or dirty jokes.

A pastor was making a wooden trellis to support a climbing vine. As he was pounding away, he noticed that a little boy was watching him.  The youngster didn’t say a word, so the preacher kept on working, thinking the lad would leave.  But he didn’t. Pleased at the thought that his work was being admired, the pastor finally said, “Well, son, trying to pick up some pointers on gardening?”  “No,” he replied.  “I’m just waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer.”

This week I was listening to Jon Courson on the radio – he was talking about “bearing false testimony”.
One of the examples he gave was about the false witnesses that testified at Jesus’ trial.  They said that Jesus claimed He was going to tear down the Temple and rebuild it in three days.  And though this was technically true, it was a twisted version of what Jesus said.  Jesus had been talking about the temple of His body, and His resurrection from the dead.  They spoke the truth but mangled the intent, and the result was conviction.
Then Jon went on to talk about how we often will talk about people.  We might say, “Oh, that person is a great person … but let me tell you …” and then we go on to speak half-truths or twisted truths, sometimes to make ourselves look good and the other person look bad.

We will take a person that Jesus loves and cares for, and kill their reputation in front of others.

This is a “corrupt” word.

It was Ring Lardner who said, “The family you come from is not as important as the family you are going to have.”  He’s right. The truth is, I can’t do anything about the home which I was born into. In my case, it was a good one. But now that I’m the dad, it’s on my shoulders to make a good home.
What’s going to be the atmosphere of my home? More than anything else, it will be my words that spell the difference between construction and destruction. What kind of words will echo off the walls of my home and sink into the souls of those impressionable folks under my roof? Unjust words like, “You’ll never amount to anything.” Unjust statements like, “Here, give me the wrench! You look so darned awkward with that thing.”

-- Steve Farrar, Finishing Strong (Questar Publishing, 1995), p. 133.

:29 but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

edificationoikodome (the act of) building, building up; it’s a construction word, but instead of building a house, we build up each other.

necessarychreia necessity, need

Same word used for “need” in verse 28.  There are people in need.  They don’t need financial help, but they need spiritual and emotional help.  Do we “work hard” (vs. 28) to have something to give to them?

impartdidomi to give; the same root word used in vs. 28 (“something to give”)

gracecharis grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight


Gracious Words

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, Montclair State University, East Rutherford, NJ, said the following to the class of ‘96 upon their graduation: 
I am happy to speak my words at the university graduation.  A lot of people have been quoting me ever since I came to play for the Yankees in 1946.  But, as I once said, I really didn’t say everything I said.  So now it’s my turn.  I want to give some of my famous advice to the graduates.  First, never give up because it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.  Second, during the years ahead, when you come to the fork in the road, take it.  Third, don’t always follow the crowd, because nobody goes there anymore.  It’s too crowded.  Fourth, stay alert.  You can observe a lot by watching.  Fifth, and last, remember that whatever you do in life, 90% of it is half mental.  In closing, I want to quote myself again:  Thank you, Montclair State University, for making this day necessary.

-- USA Today, 5-24-96, p. 15A.

(Prov 12:18 NKJV)  There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health.
To appreciate the power of the tongue, we need only picture the people of Great Britain in the early days of World War II, gathered in their living rooms listening to Prime Minister Winston Churchill deliver one of the most stirring speeches of the war:  “The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us....  Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say:  ‘This was their finest hour.’”  The heroism so evident in Britain’s battle against Nazi Germany may have lain dormant in the British people had not Churchill’s words helped galvanize their will.
Our words have the ability to “edify” others.
Alan Redpath wrote, “I once formed a mutual encouragement fellowship at a time of stress in one of my pastorates. The members subscribed to a simple formula applied before speaking of any person or subject that was perhaps controversial.

T—Is it true?

H—Is it helpful?

I—Is it inspiring?

N—Is it necessary?

K—Is it kind?

When I look at those suggestions, I find that I might not have quite as many things to say.

[1]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989). Eph 4:25.