Focusing on Quiet
The Christians in Thessalonica were accused of stirring up discontent (Acts 17:6-9), so Paul encourages them to live respectable and modest lives for the purpose of putting to rest any lingering suspicions. He tells them to continue living to please God by pursuing a holy life and loving others and also challenges them to do these in increasing measure.
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and 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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
Before giving them instructions for moving forward, Paul first tells these early Christians what they are doing right. His example reminds us of the importance of recognizing where we stand with pleasing God before we move forward. Then Paul gives instructions for where to focus future efforts along with providing reasons for doing so.
What’s the focus? Lead a quiet life.
How do we keep that focus? Mind your own business and work with your hands.
Why should we focus there? To win the respect of and not be dependent on others.
Struggling with Quiet
Many people struggle with the idea of a quiet life. This could be largely because our culture promotes anything but living quietly. Added to this are Jesus’ own words telling us to “go and tell,” which sort of feels like a push to not live quietly. (Matthew 26:16-20)
The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines quietness this way:
“A calm, peaceful and restrained attitude to life and way of approaching God frequently commended in Scripture even in adverse circumstances. It is also a condition experienced by God’s friends and enemies when confronted by His majesty.”
In other words, a quiet life is an attitude rather than physical state of being. This means speaking out against injustices and proclaiming the Gospel still fall under the activity of a Christian, but they come from an attitude that reflects a quiet inner life. David gives us a great visual for understanding this type of inner quiet.
“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.” (Psalm 131:2)
Reading 1 Thessalonians 4:11 in several translations helps to further understand what Paul meant by encouraging the pursuit of a “quiet life.”
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” (NIV)
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life.” (NLT)
“Aspire to live quietly.” (ESV)
“Strive earnestly to live quietly.” (Berean Literal)
“Ye study to be quiet.” (King James)
“Seek to live a quiet life.” (Holman Christian Standard)
Pursuing a quiet life exists as a deliberate effort on our part, and it won’t happen unless we choose to make it happen. Not only that, but the benefit lies largely with the impact we have on others.
“…so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent upon anybody. (1 Thessalonians 4:12)
Consider this pattern given by Paul to the Thessalonian Christians for moving ahead in your own walk with the Lord. Take time to assess where you are now, and adjust your focus according to God’s desires. Then, take steps toward achieving that inner quiet that speaks volumes about the presence of God in an individual’s life.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” (Isaiah 30:15)