1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 — “Now on the topic of brotherly love a you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, to aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you. In this way you will live a a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.”
1 Timothy 2:1-4 — “I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
How many of you aspire to lead a quiet life? A life of peace, godliness, dignity and hard work? I’d imagine just about everyone wants to lead a life like this. I know I do! I love the concepts of peace and quiet. But the peace and quiet Paul urges the believers to seek is not one of high fences, thick hedges and isolation. No, peace and quiet are to be hallmarks of redeemed lives lived in the public realm. In front of outsiders. Non-believers.
It is in this aspect that a lot of Christian groups have faltered over the past few centuries. Anabaptist groups like the Amish have interpreted the quietness and “attend your own business” and “work with your hands” to mean they should be separated from the world, isolating themselves into communities for the sake of piety and communal living. They work hard with their hands and mind their own business. They value quiet and peace, choosing the route of pacifism in times of war, and all of these are good virtues in and among themselves. But the value in such lifestyles is not internal only. Paul writes, “In this way you will live a a decent life before outsiders.” The focus is not inward alone but also intentionally outward. We live in quietness and peace, working hard and minding our own business so that others see and hear and admire.
It’s the “city on a hill” principle of Jesus — Let your light shine before men so that they see your good works and turn to God above. Paul adds a wrinkle to this teaching. It’s not just good works but its attitude and motivation as well. Peace and quiet are not hallmarks of our world. We fill our days and our lives with noise. We argue and complain and protest and isolate ourselves. We enjoy gifts but don’t always enjoy working for what we receive. Of course, working with one’s hands can be applied in many different ways, from a counseling ministry to running a bulldozer. But the way we go about our lives says a lot about what we believe and who we believe.
There is great value in peace and quiet. I dare say that there is great harm in any lifestyle that is not peaceful and quiet. When we protest, complain, etc. we are being no different than the world. When we fight, sue, seek retribution, we do not model the new lifestyle of faith in Jesus Christ under his grace. Also bad, we do harm to the witnesses of the peaceful and quiet, who have to spend time convincing people that Christians should be peaceful and loving and hard-working. That Jesus modeled this for us. I’ve been there, having to undo the damage done by the rowdy and riotous. It’s not fun.
So seek to live peaceful and quiet lives. Not in isolation but in community, loving one another and pointing those around you towards the One in whom you have placed your trust. Pray for the president, Congress, Parliament, Prime Minister, First Minister, Queen, King and everyone whom God has placed over you. Doing so not only honors God but also stands out among the crowd and points people towards Him.
Don’t you want to do that?