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, 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, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 ESV
I have been fairly quiet lately- both here as well as on Facebook, where I used to be fairly active. I still really enjoy writing, and see blogging as a long-term thing in my life, but over the past couple of months I have really felt little desire to write in my free time. Tonight, as I enjoy some much-needed alone time, I am thinking about this. And the verse above popped into my mind. “Aspire to live quietly.” That is what I’ve been feeling so much lately!
Rabbi Shaul (or Paul, as most refer to him), is sharing with the believing community in Thessalonica. He’s celebrating their love for each other, and encouraging them to lead a quiet life, mind their own business, and to work with their hands. In doing this, he says, they will walk properly- be a good witness- to the world around them.
Over the years, I have gone through phases of growth in the way I relate to others. I used to be very quiet, unsure of myself, and unwilling to speak up in most situations- afraid of saying the wrong thing or freezing up. Like many people, confrontation makes me rather uncomfortable. But somewhere along the way, I was able to finally break out of this. I met people who were introverted and yet outspoken, and it was inspiring! These women were strong and knew who they were. I wanted that for myself. I wanted to feel strong, to be able to stand up for what I believed in. And so I started doing just that. It was uncomfortable at first, but the more I did it, the easier it became! It felt so good to finally feel like I knew who I was and was able to express that without fear.
But as I’ve grown, I’ve realized something. While being able to stand up for yourself is crucial, it is equally important to know when to speak up, and when to let things roll off your back. It’s also so very important to always speak with grace. As Rabbi Shaul says to the believers in Colossi:
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:5-6 ESV
Anyway, I guess I’m just trying to say that to me, this is a lot of what “Live a quiet life” and “Mind your own affairs” means. It doesn’t mean we should be doormats, never speaking up about right and wrong, but it does mean that we should use wisdom in deciding when to speak and always speak with grace.
It also means for me, that I just don’t say as much in general. I’ve taken stock and simplified my life, and if something (for example, a thread on Facebook) doesn’t directly edify my life and my family, I will think twice before joining in.
The last thing the rabbi encourages is to “work with your hands.” In addition to being a rabbi, Shaul/Paul was also a tentmaker. He knew what it was like to work with your hands. I found it intriguing that he included this in his letter. What is it about working with your hands that ties into your speech and relationships?
I personally enjoy working with my hands, especially when it doesn’t include doing dishes! I like creating things, making beauty, and using my skills to bless others. At this stage of life, my hands are usually busy maintaining our home. Is there a purpose to this beyond just daily life?
According to Rabbi Shaul, working with your hands is part of the bigger picture of being a godly witness to the world around you. When I think about why, this is what comes to my mind:
1. It keeps you from being idle. Scripture is full of references regarding the danger of idle hands.
2. It allows you to create. I believe the Lord made us hardwired with a need to create, after all, we are made in His image.
3. It can often provide us with a way to bless others. If you don’t know what to use your hands to make, look to the needy world around you. Put together bags for the homeless. Knit blankets for the elderly forgotten in a nursing home. Make a care package for an inmate. What a witness we can be, simply by working with our hands. And if you’re at the place in life where keeping your home is all your hands can handle, that’s okay too! Your home is your highest calling.
Anyway, my time here is running out, but I wanted to be an encouragement tonight and share these thoughts with you all. I pray that it blesses you!