1 Thess 4:11 gives some very interesting, very practical instruction. It can be broken up into three commands. First, the command to live a quiet life. Second, the command to mind your own business. Third, the command to work with your hands. I realize that this isn't a "disregarding all others" passage. But isn't there a charming appeal that sinks very deep into us with this set of commands? Certainly this must be taken in context. This can not be saying that we are not to share the gospel. Nevertheless, the verse does tell us that it should be our ambition. The KJV says that we should "study" for this end. What a blessing!
Leading a quiet life seems to me like a call to ignore or disregard the temptations of fame and fortune. Everybody wants to be known for something, remembered for something. Our names are in the Book of Life. We are known by Jesus Christ, remembered by Him. That's enough. No other fame on earth amounts to anything at all. We can quietly seek to do everything in our lives "as to the Lord" knowing that even if it goes totally unnoticed by others it is noticed by the God of the Universe. Amazing.
Minding our own business. How wonderful it is to realize that we are not each other's judges. The journey that Christ is taking someone else on is not my concern in the sense that I often try to make it my concern. It is so easy to give out advice. It seems so clear to see the problem in someone else's life. I would be ashamed to hear how many times I have uttered statements like, "It's so easy, he should just do such and such!" or "Why doesn't she see that all she has to do is so and so." As if my life is really complicated and everyone else's can be solved by my infinite wisdom in only a sentence. Really? No. Not really. Minding my own business means not meddling in other peoples' affairs. Not trying to place myself as the unwanted directer of their lives. They have a Director, me pretending to fit my two cents in is just absurd.
Working with our hands. OK, this one is near and dear to my heart. I haven't been able to get out of labor since college. With a few exceptions it seems that most jobs I have had have had some aspect of physical labor. It took me a while to get it, but now I see the beauty in it. What a joy to be productive. I really have no fondness for exercise but I really enjoy putting things together and sweating it out that way. So figure. There is something spiritual about labor. It doesn't mean that everyone must be a laborer, but perhaps that our jobs should be honest. I couldn't deny that there is a special blessing in labor not found elsewhere. Yard work, housework, building, cleaning, fixing, serving, working. Good. God made work before the fall. There is something to it.
That frees me. I can't say exactly why. It's not a promise that things will go like I want them to. It is not a promise that we will get whatever we want. But it seems to me to reveal something that we were made for. To love the Lord, to be constructive, to be able to love others without the burden of judging them and interfering with the all of the time. It seems like the Lord has a wonderful freedom for us indeed. (Gal. 5:1)