Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
In our social media driven world, it’s hard to imagine how this verse fits into our culture today…and why anyone would even want to live a quiet life. The Bible has a lot to say about quiet living. But many people are attracted to flashier subjects like: how to get more followers, how to get your message heard, how to stand out or how God will make your wildest dreams come true.
In that phrase "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life", Paul used the two verb forms in almost a contradictory manner. Make it your ambition (from philotimeomai) means to be zealous and strive eagerly, even to consider it an honor, whereas lead a quiet life (from hesuchazo) means to be silent, not speaking out inappropriately, remaining at rest and tranquil. As Christians, a hallmark of our lives should be that we lead peaceful lives, don’t stir up conflict and hostility toward others, which all points to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.
Our culture runs counter to Paul’s command to live a quiet life. Worldly ambition excludes quietness and prompts to constant quests for greatness. The apostle's admonition really means, "be ambitious not to be ambitious."
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