quiet

Receivers Instead of Achievers

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A paradox is defined as something that sounds contradictory but is actually true. We find such a paradox in the first letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. There he told them to make it their ambition, to be zealous and to strive eagerly - but let’s not complete that sentence just yet...

When I see a phrase that calls me to STRIVE or to be AMBITIOUS, I instantly think of the culture of the world we live in, and conclude that I need to "strive" to be a “mover-and-a-shaker,” or have "ambitions" to become an influencer or motivator; a heart charger who yearns for impact in this world. That is what I would expect would follow a call to "strive" or "be ambitious."

Paul, however, had no such conclusion to that phrase. Instead, he said that we should strive to be quiet; that we should be ambitious to mind our own business and take care of our own work. Pretty strange command, isn’t it? Not really though, when you think about it. We are made by God as human beings, called on the first full day of our existence in Genesis 2 to REST! Oh, we went out to work on the 8th day, but we worked from a position of rest. We labored, but not to achieve, because we had already been given everything by God. WONDERFUL!

Man sinned, however, and we bought the lie that we should eat from the tree of right and wrong, and in that instant we went from a human being who received all that they needed from the hand of God, to become human doings, achieving for themselves. This became our new normal, our default mode – to perform. To do.

The glory of the New Covenant placed us back into relationship with God and provided the potential for us to once again become receivers instead of achievers. To rest instead of LABOR. To simply be significant in Christ instead of trying to achieve significance. This is not easy for anyone, because we have been conditioned to achieve instead of receive. That is why the author of Hebrews said, “Labor to enter into the rest.” In other words, it is hard work to rest. And that is why Paul here in Thessalonians said that we should make it our ambition to lead quiet lives.

We have been made some kind of special in God’s eyes. It is time for us to really believe that and let it dramatically influence the way we live.

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Is the Truth on Your Lips Lived Out in Your Life?

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Sometimes I hear people say that they don’t care what others think. Though I agree that it is the Word of God that is to be the main source by which we order our lives, we should lend some consideration to what others think about us – especially the unbelieving world.

The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonian believers that they should be quiet, work hard, and mind their own business; that they should strive to do so. It is pretty clear from what Jesus said that there is more than enough on our plate every day to concern us. In fact, there is so much on our plate, that we should not even worry about tomorrow. This also means that there is so much on our plate each day that we should not have occasion to worry about what is on the plates of others. As it has been well said, “If you are not busy, you are in danger of being a busybody.” A point well taken, and it is this diligent pursuit of our own responsibilities in daily living, that will have such a great influence on what the outside world thinks of us.

Paul told the Thessalonians that when they follow his counsel to work hard, be quiet, and mind their own business, they will not be lacking. What he meant by this, is that we will be working, and barring some calamity, will be able to provide for the needs of our own lives. In other words, we will not have to go on the rolls of some charity in order to meet our needs.

It is at that point that Paul added that this hard-working lifestyle will have a dramatic effect on the unbelieving world, and we will win their respect because of it. The truth is that we are performing on the stage of life, and the unbelieving world is the audience. They are watching to see if the truth that is on our lips is also in our lives.

One anonymous saint put it this way, “Before we tell others about Jesus with our lips, we need to make sure they can see Jesus in our lives!” Perhaps Francis of Assisi said it best, “Preach Christ always, and sometimes use words!” I love that! Don’t you? Let’s preach Jesus with our lives!

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Maintain A Spirit Of Quietness

Paul appears to say that we are going to have to stay focused and work hard to maintain a spirit of quietness.

Paul appears to say that we are going to have to stay focused and work hard to maintain a spirit of quietness.

I have had a verse from the Thessalonian letters heavy on my mind of late.

"Make it your AMBITION to lead a quiet life..."

That is a very hard thing to do in a complex world that places so much demand on us from all directions! Paul appears to say that we are going to have to stay focused and work hard to maintain a spirit of quietness.

Interestingly, Hebrews says much the same thing. "Labor to enter into rest." When all our lives have been lived under the law and performing to achieve, it is going to be hard work indeed to change the direction of our lives toward quietness.

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