Working Hard for Good and for Giving (Ephesians 4:28)
Among the practical exhortations in Ephesians 4–6, two passages deal specifically with work-related concerns. The first has to do with the purpose of work. “Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy” (Eph. 4:28). Though pointed immediately at those who steal, Paul’s advice is relevant to all Christians. The Greek translated in the NRSV as “honestly” (to agathon) literally means “to the good.” God is always leading Christians to the good. The workplace is a crucial setting for us to do many of the good works that God has prepared for us (Eph. 2:10).
Through our work, we also earn sufficient resources to share with the needy, whether directly through the church or by other means. Although a theology of work is not quite the same as a theology of charity, this verse explicitly links the two. The overall message is that the purpose of work is to do good both by what our work accomplishes directly and by what our work enables us to give to others outside of work.