Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12, ‘Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.’
Observations: Paul instructs the Christians in Thessalonica in how to live in a way that pleases God (v1). He starts with sexual purity (v3-8), and brotherly love (9-10), and now he moves on to their daily lives. He encourages them to ‘make it their ambition,’ or to aspire to a certain lifestyle. This lifestyle is marked by three things. Firstly, it is ‘a quiet life.’ It is a life that doesn’t cause dissension or quarrels, that doesn’t actively draw attention to itself. Secondly, we’re ‘to mind our own business.’ We’re to be concerned with our own way of life, not with the way of life of others. We’re to worry more about out own holiness than the holiness of others. Thirdly, we’re ‘to work with our hands.’ In an age without technology most professions involved manual labour, so this was a way of saying that we need to work in order to earn an income for ourselves. According to Paul living this sort of lifestyle will have two benefits. Firstly, ‘outsiders’ will respect us. Basically Paul is saying that this find of life will give non-Christians no reason to dismiss, or even persecute Christians. Secondly, ‘we will not be dependant on anybody.’ When we focus on providing for our own needs we won’t be a burden to others, or to society.
Application: Paul is giving a general guide for life. Generally, this should be our attitude – we should be quiet, unassuming, hardworking people. Of course there will be times when we need to speak up and stand up for certain things. But Paul’s point is that we should be a positive influence in our society, not a negative one. What would your neighbours think of your lifestyle? What does your lifestyle say about Jesus Christ? Would they say words like humble, thoughtful, wise, hardworking, or trustworthy? Or would they say words like arrogant, judgmental, opinionated, nosey, or lazy?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You have forever changed my life through Your Son, Jesus Christ. May that change be more than just my eternal destiny, may it also impact my life today, so that I may live my life in a way that brings You glory and honour. Lord, may others see You in my life. May my life be a living testimony of Your love and grace, and Your wisdom and strength. May others ask me for the reason for my hope in life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.