How loud of a Christian are you? When someone argues against your ideas and your Christian worldview, do you only yell louder?
I was that way at one point. I stood up for what is right (and I made sure everyone else knew it). I vocalized my thoughts to co-workers and friends, often without apology. I would even begin to drop my work commitments (show up late, miss deadlines, etc.) because I was out doing the Lord’s work. But then, something happened and God began to change me.
Looking back, I realize some of the ways I handled situations after I first decided to follow the Lord were simply stupid and terrible. Nonetheless, I was growing, and God was leading me. If I could go back to the start of my new life where I decided to follow Jesus, I would probably pay much more attention to this:
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your own hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV
Lead a Quiet Life
The word translated “quiet” in this phrase carries the sense of “peace.” It means that followers of Christ should live an undisruptive life. The issue Paul was confronting dealt with individuals who stopped working because they ran around shouting “the Lord is returning!” In essence, they became a nuisance to others. They were fanatic and distracting.
How often are we so focused on proclaiming the return of God and salvation of Christ, that we forget to live in a way that commands respect?
There’s a common teaching heard in leadership circles: Focus on relationships before speaking authoritatively. Don’t try to speak into someone’s life unless you’ve been invited, unless there is a level of respect, a level of trust.
Maybe, instead of flippantly proclaiming, we need to start fiercely professing Christ’s love in a quiet and personal way?
Mind Your Own Business
When we hear the phrase, “mind your own business,” we tend hear someone saying to us: “Back away! Don’t get involved in my life!” There is an aspect along those lines to which Paul was communicating, but not to the rude and snarky extent that the catch phrase is often associated with today.
Let your foot seldom be in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.
Proverbs 25:17 ESV
The idea is this: While we are to be involved in the lives of others, we are not supposed to become a burden, a weight, an annoyance. There is a fine line between people facilitating relational connections and between individuals inviting themselves over (not being welcome).
This phrase, “mind your own business,” is directly connected with, “work with your own hands.” “Mind your own business,” was a correction to those believers who stopped working because Jesus is returning. But for us today, how many times do we try to slide by on someone else’s dime? How often do we try to work our way into getting a discount because we are fellow believers?
Instead of developing relationships with the hope to get something in return, we need to focus on the love of Christ.
Win Respect in Your Daily Life
Ultimately, we need to live in a way that commands a trust from those who are not following Christ.
When we refuse to pay our debts, or when we depend on others to provide for us, what reflection does that have of Christ? When we run around shouting the Bible in everyone’s face, how does that earn trust? When we don’t care enough to connect with or listen to others, but only put forward our agenda to get people into heaven, how does that command respect?
When we live in a way that earns the respect of outsiders, those not following Christ, we then earn the right to begin speaking into their life. We do this by living a quiet life, by fiercely professing Christ’s love without the hope of getting something in return.