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From Taker to Giver

August 30, 2015 Pastor: Don Green Series: Ephesians

Topic: Sunday Sermons Scripture: Ephesians 4:28


This morning you can see from the table in front of me that we're going to celebrate communion together in just a little while and as we approach the table this morning, the Lord has providentially put before us perhaps an unusual text to prepare our hearts for communion but I think as we go through it and come to the end, we're going to find that it has thoroughly equipped us for receiving communion in a worthy manner as we just continue on in our study of Ephesians 4. I was thinking this morning as I was anticipating being in the pulpit before you here, that for many people when they think of the book of Ephesians, their mind goes quickly to the doctrinal part of the first couple of chapters and because there is so much important text there for our theology and what we believe that that's often the first thing that comes to people's minds when they think about the book of Ephesians and it's good that it should. But as we go along in the text of Ephesians, I hope that you're being struck by the fact that in giving us this text God not only was showing us his side of salvation and what he did before time began but he is also showing us how it is that he wants us to work out our salvation now that we have been redeemed and in Ephesians 4 that's what we're seeing is the way that God intends for you and me to work out our salvation in our earthly lives.

You will recall that we saw in Ephesians 4:20-24 that when you came to Christ in salvation you decisively by a work of God in your heart, you decisively put off the old man. You separated yourself from your former manner of life and you came to Christ, leaving everything behind in order to embrace him and to receive him and to follow him in newness of life. That is fundamental to salvation and I would say just by way of encouragement and invitation to you that if that sounds completely foreign to you and it sounds like you've never heard anything like that before, I would encourage you to examine yourselves to see whether you're in the faith even because, especially for you young people who have grown up in the church, to be mindful of the fact that there is a conscious separation from the old man and an embracing of a new way in Christ, an embracing Christ for salvation because you cannot save yourself. That should be clear in your mind that in one manner or another, that was an aspect of your salvation and what Ephesians 4 as you continue on does, is it takes that principle, that decisive principle at the moment of your conversion, and it shows that it carries out in real life. It carries out in the practical way that you live your life now today. We've seen over the past couple of weeks that it becomes so practical that it affects your personal integrity. You put off falsehood and you speak truth with one another, especially in the body of Christ. We saw last time that we've put off anger and we exercise self-control and don't simply give ourselves over to the impulses of our angry spirit but we control them and subdue them in order to honor Christ with our lives.

Well, today we come to another practical issue that will help to sanctify us, that will give us a perspective on how God intends us to live and it's found in verse 28 of Ephesians 4 and I would invite you to look there in your Bible as we're just going to consider this one verse here this morning as we come to God's word. Ephesians 4:28 says,

28 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.

It's kind of an interesting text to think that Paul felt it necessary under the leading of the Holy Spirit to write this particular text to a group of Christians. It's almost a little bit surprising that it would be necessary to tell Christians not to steal but that is evidently something that needed to be discussed. Respect for the property rights of others is something that is basic to biblical ethics. The eighth commandment in Exodus 20:15 says, "You shall not steal." The New Testament repeats that principle in many places including Mark 10:19; Romans 13:9. There is this principle of recognizing the property rights of others and not coveting after what they have and certainly not taking that which belongs to another and appropriating it to yourself.

Well, the way that that works out in practice in the Christian church is quite surprising but this message that you shall not steal apparently has not reached store employees, retail store employees in the United States of America. According to the 2014 Global Retail Theft Barometer study, US retailers lost more inventory to internal employee theft than they did to customer shoplifting which was a shocking thing for me to see, to the tune of approximately 18 billion dollars US retailers lost in one year just because their employees were stealing from them.

Now, perhaps some of you have been guilty of that. I know before my conversion I did that. I stole from my employer when I was a teenager. When I became converted, I actually wrote my former boss a letter and wrote him a check to reimburse and give him restitution for that. If you have been guilty of theft in the past and you've never made restitution, you should do that too. That's just part of repentance. But while we as Christians would agree that that's wrong and that we shouldn't steal from our employer or we shouldn't remove money from someone else's purse or wallet, we would all pretty much agree to that. There might be a smaller subset of you that have never cheated on your taxes or never fudged the time clock at work or in some other manner fudged integrity in order to gain a financial benefit from it and if that's you today, you need to take this Scripture to heart and realize the breadth of what it is saying is more than simply taking an object or currency from someone else but there are other ways that we act to steal from those who are unsuspecting, who are depending on our integrity and would find in the end if they knew the truth, that we had not delivered on that they had expected. We need to humble ourselves once more before God's word.

You know, one of the things that we see in this passage in Ephesians 4 is how realistic Scripture is. It talks to us where we live. It's not abstract philosophy or theological musings that never have any bearing on real life. True doctrine always bears on real life and all of life is somehow or another affected by true doctrine. So as we come to God's word, we realize that it speaks with authority over all of us and as we said, the Bible speaks and spoke to the first century church on this issue evidently because it was a problem. That there were shortcomings there in the church and what Paul does here is gives us a way to see how that kind of basic integrity plays out and we're going to see it in three simple steps here this morning. What you're going to find is that it's not simply talking about simple thievery but where this verse takes us is into a complete transformation of the way that we view the reason that we work and it's very pervasive in its application.

So we're going to look at it in three simple points here this morning and this will help prepare us for communion as well. What should we say about the way that we think about work and what we do? First of all, point number 1 here, we can put it this way: stop stealing. Stop stealing. The Bible tells believers to sustain themselves by their own work rather than by relying on the charity and the labor of others.

Look at Ephesians 4:28 with me again as we kind of move into the text. It says, "He who steals must steal no longer," and as I read that, that's the first phrase that we're going to look at from the verse here, as I read that, I asked myself the question, "Were Christians in the early church really stealing? Were they really marked by theft to such an extent that Paul needed to write this?" Well, evidently it certainly seems that way. Look at what he says there in verse 28, he says, "He who steals must steal no longer." It seems like he's addressing an ongoing problem and says, "What you're doing here needs to stop. Don't do this anymore." It's a direct ethical instruction that says, "You need to stop doing this," rather than it certainly doesn't read like a congratulation that they stop doing that completely since they came to Christ. That's a little bit surprising but it probably speaks to the corrupt culture from which they were converted that that kind of theft and perhaps slaves from their masters, was so common and so endemic and so woven into the nature of existence that they didn't even think about it so much as to realize that what they were doing was that wrong and they found it difficult to separate from the conduct of the society from which they had been saved. One writer suggests that those that are in view here were perhaps day laborers or those that had seasonal work and when they were out of work, they did not have a welfare system to support them and so they chose to steal in order to maintain themselves or their family. But whatever the situation may be, there was this presence of sin in the early believers that Paul was addressing and saying, "Look, we've got to stop this. This is just not right. This is not consistent with biblical salvation."

Now, you say, "Wow, really, it was like that?" Well, you know, there are other places in Scripture and we're going to go some place important with this, that will help you have discernment in the future. There were other places in Scripture where there was shocking sin present in the Christian church. You remember in 1 Corinthians 5 that Paul was rebuking the church because they were tolerating a man committing incest in their assembly and he said, "You've got to stop that. You've got to put the wicked man out because this is not consistent with what Christ would have us to be." So we see in the Scriptures that in the early church there was a lot of sin that needed to be worked out and instructed and the nature of salvation, the implications of that worked out for them so that they would repent, that they would separate from that former way of life and that they would live sanctified holy lives that were pleasing to the Lord.

Now, those of you especially that like to read theology, you listen up in what I’m about to say. One of the things that writers who are starting to get onto a bad trajectory will do is that they like to glorify the early church and maybe not talk about biblical writings but they'll talk about writings that occurred just after that and say, "Well, here's how the early church did it," as if the chronological proximity of those writings to the biblical text were an indication that they were more reliable than perhaps the teaching that we would receive here today, today meaning in our age, from Bible teachers and from the established text of Scripture. Be very careful as you listen to that argument and be very careful with where that goes. The early church had proximity to the apostles but even Peter started to stray on the nature of the relationship between Jews and Gentiles and Paul had to rebuke him. Even in the book of Galatians, Paul said, "I am amazed that you are so quickly abandoning the Gospel which was entrusted to you."

We see in the early church that there were these matters of sin that were present in the life of them and the whole point here, this is kind of a side point to the text but it's very important for you to understand that we should not be bamboozled by those who quote early church writers and try to bring about doctrine that isn't necessarily biblical and say, "This is the way they did it in the early church." Well, maybe that was good, maybe it wasn't but the mere fact of their chronological proximity to the apostles was not an indication necessarily that they were reliable in what they said or what they did. There was so much correction that went on in the New Testament because of their sin and because of their mistaken doctrine that it would be foolish for us to rely on post-biblical writings to let that be that which shapes us and trumps anything that the biblical text says. Be very careful about what you see in that. Everything must be tested by the Scripture. Scripture alone is true and reliable and trustworthy and the mere fact that someone was close to the apostles or close to Jesus is not an indication that they somehow were more reliable than what we can find in teaching the text today. After all, Judas Iscariot was close to Christ himself and he was hardly a reliable guide for our instruction and edification.

Well, that's a long side point but something that needed to be said and that we need to be careful about. That's why I don't spend much time quoting from early church writers. We've got plenty in the biblical text to occupy us. There is plenty in the 66 books of the Bible to occupy our teaching and our doctrine and let's do this: once we've gone through and we've carefully studied every text of Scripture from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:20 or whatever the final count is there, then let's talk about the early church writings. Until that point, let's stick with the Bible and let the Bible be our guide.

Now, coming back to our text here this morning, even though there was perhaps this physical need, this tangible need that people in the local church had and from which they pilfered from those around them in order to sustain themselves, even if it is true that they had no immediate way and obvious way to support themselves, the point is that that does not justify dishonesty in a Christian. Thievery is contrary to true salvation.

Turn back in your Bibles just a couple of books to 1 Corinthians 6. Scripture alone is trustworthy. Public opinion is not a reliable guide to what is true. Everything must be tested by the Bible. Everything including anything that you hear from this pulpit. We test all things by Scripture. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?" the theme word there being "unrighteous." Paul goes on and gives a number of illustrations of what constitutes unrighteousness that would exclude someone from the kingdom of God. He says, "Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves," there's our word for today, "nor the covetous," which is what leads people to actual thievery is the sin of coveting in the heart. Maybe that's what we should really highlight here is that what leads to thievery is coveting and perhaps you haven't actually acted on your covetous heart but if there is a greedy dissatisfied spirit within you that is the mark of your inner man, you're guilty of violating this text as well. Paul goes on and says, "nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God." He just gives this laundry list of sinful conduct and sinful attitudes that are the mark of those who are not truly redeemed; those who will not go to heaven.

So while we are quick to excuse ourselves in our sin, Scripture does not allow it and it says this needs to come to an end. You need to separate yourself from the remaining patterns of sin in your life and pursue holiness in which is keeping with the nature of your salvation. So Paul says, going back to Ephesians 4:28, "He who steals," he who is in this pattern of life, "must steal no longer." So he says, "Stop stealing. Stop acting this way. Stop doing this." And sometimes we just need the most simple basic instruction rather than needing something really mystical to warm our hearts. Sometimes we just need to hear somebody come up to us and say, "Look at what you're doing. Stop it," and just let that be spirituality for us for today. Stop sinning as a Christian and stop doing that which displeases the Lord. Paul says, "You need to put that away from your life."

What he does here but what I love about this and about this whole passage is he doesn't simply leave it there and say, "Stop it," as we are sometimes prone to do as parents with our children and say, "Just stop doing that," and not take the time to correct them and show them the proper way to behave. Well, Paul isn't like that. He calls for a new response from them. He shows what it is that they should devote themselves to in order to help separate themselves from that prior manner of life. This is very critical in undergoing change is that you realize it's not just negative, "Stop this," but saying, "Okay, if you're going to stop this, what are you going to replace it with? What is going to mark your life now going forward in that realm of temptation?" Here with Paul, he makes it very clear.

Our first point was he said, "Stop stealing." Secondly we can make our second point something like this: he says, "Start sweating." Stop stealing and start sweating. Look at the middle of verse 28 there. He says, "He who steals must steal no longer; but rather," here's the contrast, here's the old man put off, the new man put on now. He says, "but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good." Paul makes a sharp contrast between stealing and the Christian way of life with the phrase "but rather." He says, "This is what's been happening but rather than that, here's what you need to do instead." You see, what Paul says is that it's not enough to stop stealing. It's not enough for you to simply cease from that negative aspect of your character. That's not enough and you can see it because it might leave a lazy man still in his unproductive ways. Paul calls him instead to pursue hard work and this positive command here, rather he must labor, it has the idea of working hard. Of working to the point of exhaustion. It could be translated, "to work hard; to toil; to strive; to struggle." The idea of working to the point of exhaustion. That is what he calls men to instead and it's a term that's often used even to simply express the idea of manual labor, working with your hands.

When you get to this point, beloved, you're introduced into something very, very significant about the Christian life. The pattern, the call upon our lives as Christians in this area is that a believer is to be one who supports himself, supports his family with the means and the fruit of his own labor rather than relying on the fruit of someone else's work to support him and to feed his stomach. This is very basic. It's almost embarrassing in a sense to talk about it but in a society like ours where the welfare roles just burgeon and burgeon and grow and grow and sometimes within the church, not talking about Truth Community Church here. I want to be very clear about that but just talking about the church in general, that it's easy for lazy men with a lot of excuses who won't support themselves to show up and have their hand out looking for something to be given to them by the people of God.

What we see here in the Scriptures and in a couple of passages that I’m going to show you in just a moment, is that that is not part of the Christian way of life. That is not to be a mark of the people of God within the body of Christ. The call of Scripture is for a man to support his family and to support himself rather than having someone else do it and I’m grateful for the many of you here that are incredibly hard workers. You put your pastor to shame with your commitment to labor and I appreciate that about you and I want to reinforce this principles by seeing that Paul addressed this in other places.

1 Thessalonians 4. The Scriptures give no quarter to an able-bodied lazy man and that's what we need to see here today in 1 Thessalonians 4:11. I'll give you time to turn there. 1 Thessalonians 4:11, the Bible says, "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, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need." He says, "Get to work and support yourself so that outsiders won't be supporting you, won't be carrying you along on the fruit of their own labor." He said that's not right and what's interesting here, beloved, is this. First of all, there are a couple of things here. I want you to notice the fact that Scripture repeats this teaching so apparently it's something that it's hard to break through in the lazy man's thinking. You have to say it again and again kind of like a jack hammer, trying to break through the concrete to get it into his mind. But notice here that Paul says in verse 11 there in 1 Thessalonians 4 when he says, "you work with your own hands," look at what he says, "just as we commanded you." He says, "I've taught you this before and you're still lagging behind in obedience." So he says, "You work with your hands just as we commanded you. I've already talked with you about this. I've already instructed you on this and now I’m saying it again." Paul is insistent on the point.

As you go on and continue to read in your Bible you find that he repeats this theme to the Thessalonian church in 2 Thessalonians. Turn over there to 2 Thessalonians 3 and what's remarkable about this as you think about the Apostle Paul is that he was an example. He was a living illustration of his own instruction. He worked as a tent maker, Scripture tells us, to support himself while he was ministering. He worked so that the churches did not have to support him. He worked so he could be financially independent, not because he wasn't entitled to their support but he was giving them an example for what they should do.

Look at verse 6. We'll take time to read the whole context here. 2 Thessalonians 3:6, he says, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us." Again he's saying, "We've talked about this. I taught you this in the past. Let me remind you once more what I said."

"For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you." He says, verse 9, "not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example." Paul said, "You watched me working with my hands, that's what you do too."

Verse 10, striking verse, he says, "For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good."

So we step back from the passage and just kind of let that settle into us a little bit. What is Paul saying? Well, he's saying to get to work, first of all, but he's also saying this: there is this individual aspect of the command that comes to us and say, "Okay, whatever I do, I need to be working. Working heartily as unto the Lord and I need to be working a way that I can support myself and those that depend upon me." Non-negotiable. Commanded in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ he says twice there in 2 Thessalonians 3. But there is also and I’m so glad that so many of you are here to hear us say this, it also has instruction for us in our corporate body life as well going forward, looking forward in life and this is something that we as elders are very, very committed to. It is not the place of a local church to support – every word here is important – it is not the place of the local church to support able-bodied men who refuse to work. It is not the place of the people of God to support men who could work if they would simply take a job but they refuse to do so for whatever reason. That is not Christian behavior and it is not the place of the church to enable men to live that way. What that is is misplaced sympathy. What that is is disobedience to God's word because Scripture makes this plain about what we are to do to support ourselves.

Now, let me just say something to round that out. When times of extraordinary need come up within the body of Christ and particularly with those who are members of our church, when there are times of extraordinary need that come up, we are delighted, we consider it a joy to be able to help people through those times. What I’m talking about is not that where sickness has struck somebody and a man is unable to work and needs help. We're glad to do that to the extent that we can. What we're talking about is a settled disposition or a settled pattern, we should say, of a man who is able-bodied but simply won't take a job and earn a paycheck for himself. That will not find support or affirmation here at Truth Community Church. That is just not biblical. Scripture says if that's the life that you want to choose, that's fine, just realize that you're choosing that you will not eat either. You know, Proverbs says that a man's appetite works for him because it spurs him on and a man's appetite should teach him that he needs to work. If we alleviate that, we're working counter to the purposes of God.

So Scripture calls us to that and so when you go back to Ephesians 4 in our text today, Ephesians 4:28, Paul says, let's just kind of sum up this point, "Stop stealing and start sweating," Paul says, "rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good." The good that Paul has in mind here is that which is beneficial for others. When each of us carries the weight of our own family, it lessens the burden on others around us and rather than taking handouts, the believer should aim to support his family even if he has to take a humble job to do it.

Now, here's the thing and, you know, sometimes you just feel like and realize you're just kind of swimming upstream against all of culture when you teach Scripture: hard work is not dishonorable. Manual labor is not dishonorable. Those of you that work with your hands, I couldn't affirm that more. And those of you that labor perhaps in difficult hard labor, dirty jobs, I affirm that. Scripture affirms that. That kind of work is not dishonorable. It is pleasing to the Lord. What is displeasing to the Lord is expecting others to support you when you are able to support yourself. The Bible will have none of that.

So Paul, "You stop stealing and start sweating. Get yourself to work," he says. But with that said and you would think if you took that and just had that kind of balanced out, stop stealing, start sweating, there's a nice balance to that. It wouldn't surprise you if Paul went on to something else and to address another area of thought, another area of life. But Paul goes another step further in this text and we see that he has an even more noble goal in mind. The idea of self-sufficiency is not the highest objective in what we do and it brings us to our third point here this morning. We said to stop stealing, start sweating. Point 3, this is where real biblical change starts to take root, point 3: seek sharing. Seek sharing.

Now, with what we've said up to now in the first two points, the world might well agree with everything that we said and add a motivation that says something like, "Yeah, you need to work hard so that you can get ahead. So that you can provide for a secure retirement and that you can go places and have nice things and do the things that you want." Well, that mindset, while it's not a dependency mindset, it's also very self-centered, isn't it? I'm not opposed to retirement plans. I'm not opposed to nice trips or for any of you to have nice things. That's not the point here at all so please understand that. What we're saying is, all we're pointing out is that the world's mindset is self-centered in the way that it approaches this. Work hard so that you can get ahead, what? For yourself. What Paul is saying here, he says, "You need to work hard so that you can get ahead so that you can become a benefit and blessing to others." The point of the work ultimately becomes so that you are able to be kind and generous to those around you who have legitimate need.

Here's the thing, beloved: Christian motivation is always much more noble and much higher than anything that you see in the world around you. Look at verse 28 with me again here because you see the purpose clause at the end of the verse and you see the way that it produces real change in us. He says, "He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that," here's the purpose, here's the way that we should think about our work in a biblical way, in a sanctified way, "so that he will have something to share with one who has need." He says, "You get to work so that in stead of you being someone that takes from others, you go to work so that you're in a position that you are able to give to someone else who has need."

What does Jesus Christ do to a thief? What does salvation do to a crook? Maybe some of these white collar crimes, they go through their Ponzi schemes and they take people's money and defraud them? What would salvation look like for one like that? What Jesus Christ does is he turns a taker into a giver and in that picture, you see the whole nature of the transformation that true salvation brings to a man's life whereas he meets us at our prior point of sin and turns that into something that it turns into a blessing for someone else. Here is this thief, taking that which does not belong to him, living off the means of other people perhaps by deceit, perhaps by fraud or whatever but he's taking what belongs to someone else and using it for his own benefit.

What we see here in verse 28 is what salvation does, is it so overturns his inner man, what conversion, what the new birth, what the new nature does in a man is it completely reorients his whole thinking and says, "Rather than you being there for me, I’m going to be here for you in your need to such an extent that I will work, I will labor, I will position myself so that I am able to do that for others in the future." Even in the text here, Paul recognizes that there will be legitimate need that should be met within the context of the church but that's not his point here today. His point here today is that we should think about our salvation as being a complete reversal of life and a thief becomes the benefactor as Christ makes his presence known in his life. Leon Morris, a very capable commentator on many books of the New Testament says this, "The point is that the thief become Christian is no longer concerned to make dishonest gain for himself. He will do some hard work and use the proceeds to help wherever help is needed."

Now, as we contemplate these truths in light of the communion table, let's think about our Lord Jesus Christ for just a moment. Our Lord Jesus Christ was a worker. Mark 6:3 says that he was a carpenter. Our Lord, the Incarnate God who left the glories of heaven and the unrestrained adoration of myriads of angels around the throne of God whatever that was like, he humbled himself to become a man. We're used to hearing that, but understand that the humility, the way that the Lord humbled himself was to such a point that before he began his public ministry he did manual labor in a carpenter's shop because that was pleasing to his Father. It was an expression of his obedience to God the Father that he would work as a carpenter. Are you kidding me? The Son of God who could speak things into existence? Who indeed spoke the worlds into existence sanctified all of your manual labor by doing it himself, only doing it without sin. Doing it without resentment. Quietly, humbly working day by day in mundane faithfulness at whatever a carpenter's shop looked like in those days. Humbly working like any other working man.

There are so many things that should impress us about our Lord Jesus Christ: his glory and the idea of his return, I mean, that impresses us. The fact that he laid down his life for our sins, that impresses us. Well, notice that it is also very impressive that he was that humble to work like that when he was the Son of God. None of us should walk out of this room today thinking that there is any kind of work that is beneath our dignity. It is not beneath our dignity to clean toilets or to take out garbage or whatever you want to say, whatever it is that you might be tempted to think, "That's below me." No, no, if the hammer and nails were not below our Lord Jesus Christ, nothing is below us who are so much lower than he is. We need to have a right perspective on work.

But do you know what? There's even more to it. Our Lord labored for us in order to achieve our redemption. There was a time in his younger life where he was the one who swung the hammer and held the nails and struck the hammer and drove it into wood. The time came, the whole purpose was when someone else held the hammer and held the nails against him and he received the nails and he received the blows, being attached to wooden beams in utter disgrace. That was his even greater work. Why did he do that work? What was he getting out of the deal? What did Christ receive that he didn't already have? What was he taking as he received those nails? He wasn't taking anything. We said that conversion turns us from takers into givers, understand that our Lord Jesus Christ was always a giver. He said, "I have not come to be served." He didn't come to take. He didn't come to receive. He said, "I cam to serve and to give my life a ransom for many." That required effort on his part. It required humility and a humbling on his part. And when we think of him on the cross, we realize and we often talk about it in proper terms that it was a work that he did. Our Lord Jesus Christ in private and in his public ministry was a worker.

Now here we are gathered together as those who have received the benefit of his work. He gave to us out of the overflow of his work so that your sins might be forgiven. That your laziness and your lusts and your greed and your pride and all of those other wicked things that move in your heart and the things you have acted upon with your life, perhaps for some of you having aborted your own babies in times gone by, understand that the Lord did this work so that all of the guilt of that could be taken away off of your account. That you could be washed away. That your sins could be washed away so that God would never deal with you according to your sins ever again. Christ did that as a gift to you through his own work.

So as we contemplate our responsibility to work, we quickly forget ourselves and we realize there was a greater worker who did a greater work on our behalf that we all receive the benefit of, those of us that know our Lord Jesus Christ. This one that we remember tonight is a one who gave himself for us. Let's take a moment to bow our heads and reflect and meditate on that and you take some time to confess perhaps some sins that you have been dealing with and you haven't repented of in your Christian life. Let's take a couple of moments of quiet to quiet our hearts before the Lord, be thankful to him for his work on our behalf and I'll bring us back in prayer in just a moment.

Let us pray.

Our Father, we ask you to help us turn from thievery and dishonesty, the remnants of that that might be in our lives. Give us integrity to work hard as you command. To give as you command. To give, Lord Jesus, as you modeled perfectly for us in giving your life over to a cross for our salvation. We love you and we honor you. We worship you even as we recognize your humble ways. We worship you and thank you for the way that you gave yourself over on our behalf when we had nothing to give to you but the sin from which we needed to be redeemed. It is our joy to honor you and to remember you in this time of communion as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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