As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this 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. 1 Thessalonians 4:1,11-12 NIV
Paul was writing to a group of disciples in Thessalonica who were trying to understand what kind of life they should model amid great challenges. Their new faith now put them at odds with the prevailing cultural norms. Their first allegiance was to Jesus, their Lord and Savior. That was settled in their hearts and minds. But how to live life day to day with its constant reminders that they were ‘out of sync’ with the cultural majority?
Paul gives several guiding principles to help with the daily decisions the believers faced. First, the goal is not to seek to please oneself, but to live a life that pleases God. We seek the ‘applause of One,’ longing to hear His voice say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Secondly, he instructs them to pursue a ‘quiet life’ that does not draw undo attention or draw the ire of the majority. They are to ‘mind their own business’ and not meddle in the affairs of others. Now should persecution arise, a believer’s loyalty to Christ must not waiver. Just as many followers of Jesus have died for their faith, so they (we) too must be willing to do so if required. But don’t go looking for trouble or seek martyrdom. “Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion.” Ecclesiastes 9:4 NIV
Third, they are encouraged to live productive lives, working hard with their own hands so that the manner and quality of their lives would be a witness to the unbelieving world around them. As they work, they must avoid becoming entangled with the world and its affairs (see 2 Timothy 2:4), shunning any dependency upon outsiders to the faith. These obligations or entanglements could be used to force compromise or denial of the faith and are thus to be avoided.
As Jesus sent out the Twelve in pairs to carry out His mission, He warned them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16 NIV
May we have ears to hear!