“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, to work with your own hands as we commanded you”. 1 Thessalonians 4:11
Paul gives some important advice to the Thessalonian church and to all of us here. We are to “study” to be quiet. . .” The Greek word for “study” used in this instance, philotimeisthai, simply denotes a deliberate activity; an active pursuit of something. It translates as aiming at / pursuing a goal, and striving for it.
In other words, we should set goals concerning our manner of life, and work towards its achievement and realization. This goal should centre around living a quiet life, minding our own business, and working with our hands.
To philotimeisthai to be quiet appears paradoxical. Quietness suggests a none -activity, yet in order to achieve this kind , one must be actively pursuing something to make it happen. Inferring from this is the dawning thought and fact that this preferred quality of life will not just happen in one’s life as a matter of course simply because they are now believers with renewed minds. Neither will it just happen because we are under the control of Holy Spirit, and possess a desire to live it. This goes beyond a mere desire. Just desiring it without making the effort to convert the desire into an action is useless. No. It will only come about by deliberately and actively pursuing it; running after it, and working hard to achieve it. Paul is actually teaching that we should be ambitious about attaining to this quality of life.
So, what is this quietness Paul is urging us to live by?
First, it’s not about speech – talking or the lack of it. The Greek word used here hesuchazein implies a restfulness. This quality of a quiet life is therefore about a life that is not full of restlessness, turmoil, or anxiety . That means you and I must work hard, strive to make sure that our lives are restful, free of turmoil, or anxiety.
Then Paul says, “. . . mind your own business”. That means don’t interfere in other people’s affairs. Don’t attempt trying to run their lives for them if you are truly seeking to live the “quiet life”.
Again, Paul mentions “working with our own hands”. Working so we don’t have to depend on another which is a vital ingredient in the attainment of the quiet life. “Be financially independent” , that’s what Paul is admonishing here. Find something decent to do if you don’t have a job; be willing to work with your own hands and earn a living if you want to experience this quality of life.
In fact, this kind of lifestyle is not an option for the believer in Christ. It is the prescribed way of life. It is a command. Not just from Paul’s view point, but other leaders too, “as we commanded you”.
The Apostle Peter describes it as an adornment or apparel to be worn. It is to be a from of Christian identity. Not just for women as per the context, but generally as a desired way of life.
If you are employed and are on a salary or wage, learn to manage your finances however scanty and inadequate you may seem to think it is . That’s the essence of managing it. Get an extra job; develop your hobbies into a service or a small business. Oh, and do cut down on your expenditure. Stop being a beggarly person, they’re bad company, and everyone tries to avoid them if they can. Cease from always asking other people for money and telling them about your self – imposed problems.
Remember this: living the quiet life also entails not meddling in other people’s affairs. Stop begging for favours and especially money from others : you disturb their own pursuit of a quiet life, and you invite them to disturb yours. On the other hand when people offer these to you on their own, accept them. Never let pride cause you to reject the generosity of well meaning people. They may be acting in answer to some of your prayers.
Aside that, value your reputation and your dignity; also value your Christian witness. Work hard and live within your means. Stop borrowing, buying on credit, or living on loans. Balance your spending with your earning. Learn to save, put something aside for eventualities and emergencies if even it’s a small amount. Do it consistently, and you will enjoy a restful, turmoil free life.
Enjoy the grace of our Lord Jesus.