I am currently going through a study of 1 Thessalonians with my Bible study friends. And each week has been so rich with truth from God’s perfect Word. So, while we were on break, I was kind of doing other things devotionally, so I don’t get too far ahead of the class. But on New Year’s Day, at seven in the morning, I asked D if I could have a little quiet time while he got ready at the hotel. I knew I didn’t have much time to study and get in-depth, but I opened up 1 Thessalonians again and read through chapter 4 (again). And just as the Holy Spirit often does, He showed me something new, some thing for my new year. Something that I felt I have to become obedient to immediately, but still work out how and what that means over this life that He has given me.
Let me set the table a little bit. The entire book of 1 Thessalonians is a forward-looking book. It mentions and awaits the coming of the Lord in each chapter. And the goal Paul (and Timothy and Silvanus) have for these relatively new believers is that they would be with them, standing with them, at the coming of the Lord in glory. And Paul is taking care of some things in this letter. He is assuring them of their faith, rehearsing their history with him, encouraging them and exhorting them. In short, he wants to make sure their faith is genuine and lasting. And chapter 4 is where Paul picks up on their journey together. Having rehearsed their relationship and having discussed how the gospel has impacted their lives, he moves on to talk about the journey ahead. The journey ahead which will include sanctification – a constant process of becoming more and more like Jesus as a result of having been set apart from the world for Him. He mentions the Spirit that has been given to them and the commandments they have both from Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus, and Jesus; but also from God Himself. And that is where we pick up in verse 9 of chapter 4:
Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11 and to 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, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. (NASB)
And what absolutely jumped off the page to me was resolutions for the new year:
*excel still more (in loving the brethren)
*make it your ambition to lead a quiet life
*make it your ambition to attend to your own business
*make it your ambition to work with your hands
And, thankfully, we see that there will be a fruit from the work of these ambitions:
– you will behave properly toward outsiders
– you will not be in any need
In just moments, God set the direction for this year for me. And I love that it says make it your ambition – a goal, a striving. The word quiet has truly resonated with me as I have meditated on these verses in the days since. Paul here is obviously not talking about a volume level; but he is saying something more, something deeper. I have not yet done all the word studies for these verses, but I am looking forward to discovering all the Spirit has to say. But even as I have simply mediated on the word quiet, I have seen areas of my life where quiet is needed:
1. distractions – I can be a time-wasting fool when I want to be. I can get caught up playing mindless games on the computer or watching ridiculous programs on TV. These things do not promote the quiet my soul is striving for.
2. the volume of my voice when talking with my kids – I have on more occasions than I care to share here, raised my voice out of frustration, out of “listen to me!” desperation, out of (I hate to admit) anger. I don’t want my children to think of me this way. What’s more, I don’t want them to learn that this is the way we talk to one another. I am making it my ambition to speak more gently, more quietly to my girls as I grow in the Lord and as I model to them the way to communicate.
3. clutter – some days it feels as though my clutter is screaming at me, “Deal with ME!” And the clutter in my life, the excess, the more than I could possibly use is not consistent with the quiet life I am hoping and working towards.
As I said before, I have only just begun to unpack the meaning of these verses. I am hoping that this year, I will be able to share more of this part of my journey here at Simple.Home.Blessings. I hope to share with you my pursuit of a quiet life, my ambition to attend to my own business and work with my hands. That will take many forms throughout the year, so I hope you will stay tuned.
Do you have a word or a verse or a guiding principle for your year? Are you willing to share it here? I would love to hear from you and encourage you on your journey! If these verses have resonated with you as much as they resonate with me, please feel free to share the following picture.