Together in Christ: 'The Great Turnaround!' — Ephesians 4:28

Sunday, May 21, 2023

 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.

— Ephesians 4:28 NLT

Key Thought

Today, the word repentance is used almost exclusively as a religious term. Even when the spiritual emphasis on repentance is used in a religious context, it is often off the mark. Biblical repentance isn't JUST feeling sorrow for past sins and mistakes. [1] Repentance is having genuine sorrow for mistakes, sins, and offenses, AND changing one's way of life. [2] Repentance is a life U-turn, a complete turnaround to live the way of Jesus and to bless others.

John the Baptizer, who preached a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins, made clear that repentance involved this spiritual U-turn:

Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
. . .
The crowd asked, "What should we do?"
John replied, "If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry."
Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, "Teacher, what should we do?"
He replied, "Collect no more taxes than the government requires."
"What should we do?" asked some soldiers.
John replied, "Don't extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”

Paul didn't want thieves in Ephesus just to quit stealing. They knew how to use their hands, so they should use those hands to work hard and give generously to people in need. Quitting sinful behavior is good but leaves a hole that can be filled by evil. [4] But genuine repentance is feeling sorry for wrongs done in the past and moving on to a productive life that honors Jesus and blesses others.

So, how do your past sins look through the eyes of repentance? What redemptive actions will replace your old selfish and hurtful ones? By the power of the Holy Spirit, repentance means a new you, shaped to be like Jesus, coming to life more each day! [5]

[1] Psalm 51:1-17.
[2] 2 Corinthians 7:8-10.
[3] Luke 3:10-14.
[4] Luke 11:24-28.
[5] 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Galatians 5:22-23.

Today's Prayer

Father, I do have some things I have done in the past that I am ashamed of doing. I am genuinely sorry for those wrongs and my rebellion against your way of life. Please forgive me of these sins as I point my life in the direction of Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to fill and empower me as I do. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Acts 17:16-31
  • Luke 3:4-18


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Illustration of Ephesians 4:28 NLT —  If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.