Today, we study the following… 1 Thes 4.9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
I stumbled across this passage in doing a quick study a week or two ago. I have listened to many sermons on various topics and scriptures. Yet, if I have heard one on this passage, it does not spring to mind. I know of no one who quotes it, or uses it as a rule to live by. Yet, it has quickly become a favorite of my wife and I. In many ways, it echoes what we try to do in our own lives.
First, the verse lays out the need to love one another. As mentioned in an earlier article I penned, this constitutes one of the two commandments Jesus gave us. In all that we do, we must seek to love God, and love one another. ” By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Paul underscores the need to make this paramount in our lives by urging the brothers to do it ‘more and more.’
Yet, what caught the eye of my wife and I followed after that. First, the writer implores us to mind our own affairs. We live in a day and age of drama. Through the news, social media, and more, we constantly seeks to know what is going on with others. In other words, we are ‘all up in others’ business.’ We find ourselves drawn to ‘reality TV,’ where we can glimpse into the ‘real world’ of the lives of others. We observe others, make judgments, and then share our opinions with our friends at work.
Yet, Paul first implores that these brothers live quietly and mind their own affairs. Even back in those days, people found it challenging to ‘mind their own business,’ yet, Paul encourages them to do exactly that. My wife and I learned a long time ago that doing so keeps our blood pressure lower, as a direct result of staying away from unnecessary drama.
Next, he reminds them to work with their hands. Now, I can only guess that means to either pay attention to their job, work on their hobbies, or both. At work, I find that many spend way too much time discussing the affairs of others rather than focusing on accomplishing their assigned task with excellence. Outside of work, I find a parallel in how some spend a lot of time observing and talking about the affairs of others. My wife and I would rather spend that time relaxing with our hobbies. For me, one of those involves writing this blog.
Finally, he says that doing this will help us to walk ‘properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.’ My wife and I work very hard with the hopes that, one day, when we can no longer hold down a paying job due to age, our hard work from our healthier years will insure that we depend on no one for support (outside of services we pay for). Living in such a manner, striving to not become a burden, certainly seems to fall into the pattern laid out here. While not mentioned here, curtaining spending and materialism (not a large issue back in that day, I imagine), also helps insure that we do not become dependent on others for existence.
We also learned from what the author does not say. He does not command them all to get involved in church even further, find new ministries, etc. Now, I do not imply that we should not do these things. They can lead us, and others, closer to God when He calls us to do so. We have plenty of passages telling us to explain the good news to a lost and dying world. Yet, we feel that an implication is made in the passage for us to consider living a loving life, working hard with our hands (job/hobby) in a way that allows us to be as self sufficient as one can be. And, by doing so, we become a witness for outsiders to see… all by doing what comes naturally for most people walking by the spirit. I have heard numerous speakers urging the brothers to do more for the cause of Christ (such as more church programs, missionary work, etc). As a result, many people I know, who have a full time job, children, etc., feel guilty when because they feel they do not do ‘enough’ for God. Yet, Paul points out here that living quiet, loving lives while working hard can most certainly glorify our Lord.
As alluded to, my wife and I started practicing the above years before we read this passage. I believe now that the Spirit led us in those directions. Often, the Spirit will do such things. Our faith is then strengthened when we later find, in His Word, affirmation of the direction we felt led. While I believe Christianity to be a subjective experience, such a life, properly led, will eventually show more and more fruit in keeping (and in line) with God’s Word.
What does these verses mean to you? And, have you ever been led by the Spirit, only to find out much later on that it lined up with a part of God’s Word you had never explored in the past?