Quiet Living in a Noisy World

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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And 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.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Yesterday we talked about serving God in quietness according to the Hebrew Scripture in Ecclesiastes. Paul has similar advice for the church in Thessalonica. He says, "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life." This is a good ambition! The word "quiet" here is a Greek verb that means to rest. The same word is used in Luke 23 when the women rest on the Sabbath after Jesus has been laid in the tomb, so Paul is not talking about resting in our work or being easygoing in our busy-ness. According to this passage, a balanced life depends on our regular, disciplined pursuit of rest.

Leading a quiet life is only the first of three pieces of advice that Paul presents here, each of them verb phrases. The New American Standard Version structures its translation more closely to the original:

  • and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life
  • and attend to your own business
  • and work with your hands

Paul never explicitly talks about living a balanced life, yet the structure of the language implies a kind of balance. In the Greek, each verb phrase is introduced with the word "and" as if to say, here are three things to guide your daily living. Rest. Be responsible for yourself. Work.

When we talk about work-life balance, most of us are looking for a sense of inner peace and calmness. Interestingly, Paul's advice for a balanced life here has very little to do with how we will feel. Instead, we should seek balance so that our lives will serve as a model of integrity for outsiders.

I feel a little ashamed because my motives are so selfish by comparison. No doubt, God wants me to feel a sense of peace and balance, but that is not the primary goal. God's glory is the goal. Any balance in my life is a result of God's will for me to do what is right and true. I do not seek God's will for my life primarily to be comfortable, but to glorify God and to inspire others to find their own balance in God's will.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are some of your greatest ambitions? How will God be glorified if you achieve these ambitions? Have you also made it your ambition to lead a quiet life?

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for Paul's practical advice in his letters to the early churches, and thank you for giving him wisdom that is still helpful to us thousands of years later.

Forgive my shallow motives for work-life balance. Forgive my tendency to worship my own work and productivity. Help me be more ambitious to lead a quiet life. Then let me always work hard and be responsible in a manner that glorifies you above myself and my own self-interests. Amen.

P.S. from Mark Roberts: The Daily Reflections for this week have been written by my friend and colleague, Marcus Goodyear. He has penned this five-day series as part of our focus on the topic of work-life balance. I know you'll find these to be engaging and encouraging. In his "day job," Marcus oversees The High Calling website and digital community in his role as Senior Editor at Foundations for Laity Renewal. He is a teacher, poet, writer, speaker, and top-notch editor, not to mention husband, father, and valued friend. Enjoy Marcus' thoughtful reflections this week, and I'll be back with you on Saturday.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.