There is a passage from the Bible that came to mind this week while I worked around my place, trying to survive the winter storm. It is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11. This is what it says:
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Paul begins with an affirmation, commending the Thessalonians for their acts of love. But he adds an exhortation: lead a quiet life.
A quite life differs from a private or reclusive life. After all, Paul says that living a quiet life, minding one’s own business and working with one’s hands, can result in Christians gaining the respect of outsiders. Self-reliance can result from this kind of life, but not necessarily withdrawal or isolation. Paul writes that the quiet life in Christ can be part of daily life, a life marked by love, peace, and productivity.
I suspect that for many of us, a “quiet life” hasn’t been a goal. We want applause, acclaim, success, fame. Or we want to party, and all the corresponding pleasures. Or we want power, maybe so we can mind the business of others and tell them what to do.
A quiet life isn’t an obvious choice for us, not in our culture, not in this age. We know, at the deepest level, that we were made for a life of meaning and significance. And we think the only way to satisfy that drive is to live loudly. We think we need to draw attention to ourselves in order to be significant.
But once you know that the lives we lead are known and noticed by God, we do not need to live loudly. We already have meaning. We already are significant. We already have the attention of the only being who, in the end, matters. We’re significant because we’re made in the divine image. We’re significant because we’ve been redeemed by Christ. We have meaning because we were made to live according to God’s purposes, for God’s glory. We’re freed to be faithful, to live the life that God has called us to live before God alone, even as our life brings us into contact with others both inside and outside of the community of faith.
We could use a legion of quiet heroes, people who commit themselves to serving God and loving others, who don’t concerning themselves with the thoughts and opinions of others, and who wholeheartedly devote themselves to the good work that is theirs alone to do.
Congregations would be blessed by pastors who understood their vocation as one of quiet service, prayer, and ministry of the Word, rather than as a vehicle for influence, notoriety, or fame.
Communities would be blessed if followers of Christ conducted their work (in the marketplace and at home) in a quiet manner, confident that God not only sees the work but the heart of the worker and honors those who seek to please the Lord.
Christ followers would be motivated to pursue excellence in all things and inspired to do all things to the glory of God. They would quit worrying so much about what other people think. There’s freedom in living before an audience of One.
The days ahead, and the years for that matter, hold countless opportunities to do quiet work as part of a quiet life in service to a God who sees and who sends us into the world to bless others, all for the eternal glory of the kingdom of God.