If someone were to ask you what kind of life you have as a Christian, how would you respond? I think it is good to reflect on how you are living your life to see if you need to make any changes. Spiritually, would you say you have a joyful Christian life? Is your life filled with hopeful anticipation of Heaven? Do you have a prayerful life? Do you walk in faith and trust in God? The Apostle Paul gave a description of the kind of physical life he wanted the Thessalonians to lead. Let us take a look at his description and see how it could apply to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 “That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.”
The first exhortation is “That you aspire to lead a quiet life.” Other translations have it that you make it your ambition or that you study to be quiet. The Apostle gave a somewhat similar exhortation in 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” What is a quiet life? You certainly would not engage in a mob or a riot or join in civil disobedience. It would be a life where you obey the laws of the land, where you seek to avoid disorder and trouble and where you calmly go about your business. You would not seek to draw undue attention to yourself.
The second exhortation is “to mind your own business.” That means that you don’t stick your nose into other people’s business. You have enough to do to wisely deal with your own affairs. A busybody is a person who is eager to know that is happening in other people’s lives and is quick to pass on the latest gossip. 1 Peter 4:15 “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.” The church was not to support the younger widows lest they become busybodies. 1 Timothy 5:11-13 “But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.”
The next exhortation is “to work with your own hands.” Today, there are many jobs where one uses his mind instead of his hands to earn a living. The point is that you work to earn a living for yourself and your family rather than expecting others to give you what you need. Certainly there are exceptions where someone is unable to work. Ephesians 4:28 “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” This matter was important to the Apostle Paul. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-11 “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”
The next exhortation is “that you may walk properly toward those who are outside.” This relates to how you interact with those who are not Christians. Since you live in the world and often interact with people of the world, it is important that there be nothing improper in your actions where they can justly criticize you or your actions. Colossians 4:5-6 “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
The final exhortation is “that you may lack nothing.” Live your life so that you meet your own needs rather than having to constantly depend upon others. Of course there may be some catastrophe that exhausts your resources and you would need the help of others. But you should not be dependent on others if you are lazy or idle or waste your resources through unwise spending.
In my encouragement to you, I pass on the Apostle Paul’s exhortation that you aspire to lead a quiet life, that you mind your own business, that you work with your own hands, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.