“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28, NIV)
So, share my paycheck. That’s the idea. My work – my paycheck – is directly linked to sharing with those in need in Ephesians 4:28. Certainly, this isn’t the only function of work, but it’s hard to deny the pairing.
But my paycheck? Sharing? Why is it so difficult to hear and even more difficult to do?
It’s easier when the deal is giving only from leftovers. When I can spare it, generosity is easy!
Except there rarely seems to be any leftovers. I work hard for my pay, and the bills keep showing up every month. There’s college savings and retirement to plan for, too. My paycheck is already spoken for, most days!
But excuses don’t cut it when compared against Scripture’s perspective. Persistent refusals to share with others means that I’m missing God’s mark for work. Work is not just a vehicle to provide for my needs; it’s intended as an engine that drives sharing.
Even more, it’s intended to proclaim the good news of an abundantly generous God whose work to provide for His people is perfected in Jesus Christ. Sharing from my paycheck isn’t just an afterthought…it’s the Gospel.
Framing my paycheck this way forces the question of ownership. When I look at my paycheck, I have to decide whether it’s a trust from God to be stewarded or it’s mine. This sounds like a Sunday School lesson, but deciding to share from my pay is actually a decision born of a gritty determination to trust God, no matter what.
It’s not easy to face, but here’s the reality: either my paycheck is mine or it isn’t. Either I use it to share in God’s abundant purposes or I don’t.
The Gospel requires these kinds of decisions all the time -- even on payday.
Rev. Phillip Leo is the Church Communications Director at Barnabas Foundation. Read Phil's online bio.