He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Ephesians 4:28
If we don’t work the alternatives are begging and stealing. At least begging shows some industry and commitment. Stealing would be at the bottom of the list.
In Ephesus, pilfering appeared more widely practiced. Paul called for the Ephesians to abandon thievery for honest work. At least they’d have something to give to the needy, those on the street corners begging and those who suffered in silence (Matthew 26:11).
That Paul urged them to toil away at something is indication that, to comply, God must create opportunities for all to be productively occupied and compensated. His system of sharing is built upon all working to live, and some excess is presumed. See some proof below:
…and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure… 1 Corinthians 4:12
…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you… 1 Thessalonians 4:11
You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:34-35
Therefore we can expect a job of some sort from the Lord. Otherwise only unsavory alternatives remain.
The bulk of scripture weighs in on the side of fruitful labor. As one who has laid aside evil for good, it would be grossly unfair to withhold opportunities to make a living, and to ask for generosity when there is nothing to give.
Now the rich are another subject, who James addresses head on in James 5:1-6. And a good preacher would discuss all the ways we “steal,” with our various justifications. Now that’s for another Sunday.