28b But rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
A Christian should never pursue any dishonest means of material gain, such as through stealing. He is advised to “labour, working with his hands”. The thief must stop stealing and begin to put in some hard, honest labour. The Greek word for “labour” (kopiáō) denotes toil or engaging in hard work to the point of exhaustion. Paul used this word in connection with “working with his hands”. Christians should prefer hard, manual labour to stealing. The apostle Paul, when he was without any financial assistance, had given himself to hard labour, working with his hands to support the Gospel work (1 Corinthians 4:12). According to Acts 18:3, when he was in Corinth, he supported himself by working as a tentmaker, together with Aquila. In Acts 20:34, referring to his time in Ephesus, he further said “that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.” Without question, he worked hard to support himself and those in need.
Whether it was in a secular profession or in the ministry, Paul was assiduous and hardworking. In 1 Corinthians 15:4, he said, “but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” In 1 Thessalonians 2:9, Paul wrote, “For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.” Like Paul, we must dedicate our hands, our minds and our strength to undertaking and accomplishing tasks that are good, instead of doing that which is bad, contrary to God’s law. We must not be slothful or lazy in our work. We must not detest hard work. Christians must always be industrious people. Whether it is at workplace, at home, or in church, let us be diligent to put our hands to useful and profitable things.
A commitment to hard work will not only help us to cease from dishonest and evil activities (such as stealing), but will also provide us with means to earn a living for ourselves and to help others in need. The Bible teaches us to be eager to help others who are in need. Paul was a tender-hearted, generous person who took lead in helping others (Acts 24:17; Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 16:1-9). As he wrote in Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”