January 29

Ways and Means: Don’t Just Stop

Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

This wonderful passage gives us the whole perspective of God when He is working to change our ways and means. When we become aware of sinful behavior, we think that God wants us to stop it. That’s true, but woefully incomplete in terms of His plans for us. He wants to transform our sinful action into life for ourselves and others.

The theoretical thief Paul refers to here is encouraged to stop stealing, so that he can do something else with his hands, something positive, and finally, something beneficial. The goal wasn’t simply to stop the bad, but to let there be transformation.

Obviously, stopping the negative is the prerequisite to starting the positive. But it’s just the beginning. The thief was told to put his hands to a different use, a constructive one. He was encouraged to do honest work. Then, after a while, those hands would have put him in a position to use his hands to give to others. The arc is complete—from stealing to creating to giving. That’s the goal of God.

We’re not called to live a life of frustration, always trying to stop doing things. If we’re called to stop something, it’s just the first step toward a positive expression of some kind that’s designed to be an honest blessing to us, and ultimately, to others.

Do you have something you need to stop doing? Remember that stopping is only a part of a much larger plan to transform you. God has a positive plan and blessing in mind with all our sin.

Prayer: Lord, help me see with the eyes of faith that my sins and weaknesses are the raw materials You use to bring life to me and others. Let me focus less on my sins and more on Your transforming grace.

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