1 THESS 4:7-12
7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
9 Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.
11 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, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
It’s important to have goals. To dream. To have a vision about our future. The problem is that often the voices in the world tell us that if we are to get anywhere in life, then we must be ambitious. This often means striving to reach the top of our profession and earning enough money so we can retire early and live a life of ease. In and of itself this is not a bad thing – but in many cases ambition like this comes at a price. Relationships suffer. People get hurt along the way. The climb up the corporate ladder means someone gets kicked in the face.
Paul wants his readers to be ambitious in a different sense. ‘Make it your ambition,’ he says
1. To lead a quiet life.
There were a number of people in his day that had become fanatical about the second coming of Christ. They were living so much for that day when Christ returns, that they were not living realistically. His instruction to live a quiet life, therefore, probably had to do with an instruction to calm down, enjoy life, and not put so much emphasis on the second coming that they missed out on the presence of God in the world today.
2. To mind your own business
It is likely that some of the Christians in Thessalonica had stopped working because they thought that Christ’s return was imminent. With nothing to do, they had become busybodies, meddling in matters that did not concern them and interfering with the affairs of others, especially the church leaders from whom they wanted support. We all have enough going on in our own lives. We don’t need to concern ourselves with the lives of others. The golden rule is worth remembering: If someone hasn’t asked for your advice, it’s because they don’t want it. Keep it to yourself.
3. To work with your hands
While in Thessalonica, Paul had set the Christians an example to follow by working hard to earn his keep. The best way to prepare for Christ’s return is not to become lazy, but to be faithful in everyday duties and to work hard for the benefit of others.
The outcome of such a way of life will be to ‘win the respect of outsiders’. Those who do not believe in Christ will respect the way we live and be more ready to spread a good report about Christianity. A great deal of harm is done to the gospel because fanatical Christians neglect their daily work because of some religious excitement. (Think of people in times gone by who have “worked out” the date of the rapture and sold all their possessions etc).
A CALL TO ACTION
The way I interpret Paul’s instruction here is actually fairly simple: Just live a normal life. Don’t be a weird Christian. Don’t freak people out about Christianity. Don’t do strange things that make God look bad.
Today – think about the way you reflect Christianity to the world. Is it possible that there is something you do regularly that would put people off Christ, rather than invite them to Him? If so – there has got to be a better way of expressing your passion. Find it. Do it. If you can’t on your own, get some advice. After all, the goal is to live a life that pleases God and draws man to him – not sends them running.
A PRAYER TO PRAY
Lord thank you that you call us to be salt and light in a dark, tasteless world without completely losing our identities and becoming weird. Help me to enjoy a normal life while still reflecting your love, grace and compassion to a hurting and desperate world. For your glory, amen.