1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
Aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs… (v. 11).
Scholars believe Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonian church about the same time that he was involved in the string of disturbances recounted in the book of Acts: healing a prophetess (ch. 16), teaching against idols in Ephesus (ch. 19), and being arrested on multiple occasions. This doesn’t sound like minding one’s own affairs.
And what about Martin Luther’s role in the Reformation move-
ment, William Wilberforce’s stand against slavery, and John Lewis’s
admonition to “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble” in fighting
for racial equality. Which is it? Should we live a quiet existence or
embrace the disruption that doing good can bring? Should we do as
Paul preaches here, or as he seemed to be doing at the time?
Paul’s instruction may have been directed toward those who had begun living their lives too quietly. Only two decades removed from Christ’s promise to return, some believers saw this as a reason to sit back and wait, rather than center their lives in Christ and be open to whatever work and opportunities to do good that God may have brought to them. Theirs is not the quiet confidence of this new faith, but of idle people. Paul wants our quiet to be active, not passive.
As we become more closely involved in the work of God’s Reign,
the harder it is to avoid taking a stand or becoming involved in our
own “good trouble.” But when we are able to see the big picture, we
discover a tapestry of believers that are bringing beauty, love, and
justice into our world in both loud and quiet ways. There is a role
and a need for both.
Is your faith active or coasting? What effect does the way that you live out your faith have on others?
Lord, help me to see the difference between useful faith and a disruptive demeanor today. And then help me live accordingly. Amen.