What comes to mind when you think about the return of Christ?
For some, it can be a fearful thought. Others may care less. Christ’s return does not change how they live.
Christ’s return is certain, though the timing of his return is uncertain. The Bible exhorts us to live as if it is imminent.
How would you expect Paul to call us to live in the light of the imminent return of Christ?
One would expect Paul to exhort us to move to the ends of the world and preach the gospel or pass out gospel tracts around every street corner or create massive billboards with gospel messages.
But what Paul actually tells the church at Thessalonica is quite surprising.
His instruction is in the middle of 1 Thessalonians 4, in the context of being a compelling witness to outsiders (1 Thess. 4:12), and living in light of Christ’s return (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
“…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands” (1 Thess. 4:11).
Paul’s instruction may sound like an older uncle or aunt who is after a young person. “Dress well, cut your hair, find a job, and get married.”
But we can see God’s wisdom in this simple exhortation that can shape our lives to be compelling gospel witnesses.
The Compelling Testimony of a Quiet Life
A quiet life is completely opposite to what the world longs to live.
Social media and current cultural trends are creating a generation that is restless, anxious, agitated, cynical, and exhausted.
The influencer-driven culture would conclude that the life Paul describes is uninteresting and mediocre.
And yet, this is exactly what the world needs at this moment. A quiet life where one minds their own affairs and works faithfully in their areas of responsibility.
The way Paul calls us to live a quiet life suggests that one needs to fight for such a life. It will not come automatically.
A quiet life does not mean taking life easy or casually. Rather, it is an intentional, rested life, with contentment in and gratitude for what God has ordained in every moment of our lives.
Only such a life can rejoice always, and pray giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:16).
A quiet life is a non-anxious presence in an increasingly restless world.
It makes space for others and maintains a pace where you can be genuinely present with others.
A quiet life, therefore, is also an unselfish life.
Minding your own affairs is a by-product of leading a quiet life. Paul is calling us to become aware of what God has called us to in various seasons and to be faithful and diligent in them.
A quiet life leads to deeper awareness, without the clutter and noise of unsolicited information.
Only a content and grateful life will be happy to focus on God’s calling, without comparing and complaining.
What it Takes to Lead a Quiet Life
God calls us broadly to three areas—our family, the church, and the city. Minding your own affairs requires being faithful stewards in these areas.
Often, we over-extend our time and energy in only one area, at the expense of other areas. This results in ignoring other God-given responsibilities.
Lastly, a quiet life leads to intentionally minding your own affairs. This happens through diligent work.
Working with your hands can refer to doing the work required to fulfil God’s call in our lives.
If God has called us to be a parent, working with our hands can mean doing the work of parenting. This requires learning, being equipped, listening, and spending time with our children.
If God has called us to marriage, then working with your hands can mean doing the work of marriage by being intentional in pursuing, loving, and serving our spouse with our words, time, and actions.
According to Paul, a follower of Christ who is aspiring to lead a quiet life, minding their own affairs, and working as diligent and faithful stewards is a compelling witness to the watching world.
Some Practical Steps
What steps should you take to cut down the noise to lead a quiet life?
Consider practical things such as taking a social media fast once a month, deleting certain apps, unfollowing certain accounts, or thinking about the time you spend on social media.
What areas has God called you to and how can you be more mindful in these callings?
Identify how you need to equip yourself or grow to obey and glorify God in these areas. Practically, this can mean spending time praying and seeking God’s guidance or talking to those in your life to gain wisdom.
As you take steps to be a compelling witness, remember that a quiet external life is the result of a deep inner rest in Christ.
An identity that is rooted in Christ—where you know how much you are loved and approved by God through the finished work of Christ on your behalf—is a necessary prerequisite to live out Paul’s exhortation.
As a parent, God is pleased with your faithful parenting as you change diapers and deal with screaming children.
In your workplace, God is pleased with your faithful labour even when your work seems monotonous, fruitless, and unappreciated.
What may seem small and insignificant in this world is significant in the eyes of God. He is delighted and pleased with a faithful steward, even if he or she may remain unknown and unnoticed.
A heart that rests in Christ learns to delight in what God is already delighted in.
When you rest in Christ, your eyes will be able to see the family that surrounds you. Your heart will awaken to the church that needs you. And, your hands will work diligently to serve and bless the people God has placed in your life.