The world can be really loud. It can pull our attention this way and that, telling us we need more, making us feel guilty for what we're not. It demands our attention, and like a puppeteer, it moves us to conform to its plan. Each day, the soundtrack of the world plays into our ears through the ting of the cash register, the tires on the pavement, the commercials on the television. We become accustomed to this life, believing that this is the only way- that the American dream of consumerism and prosperity is the only real way to happiness.
I believed it too. I went down that path. D and I married, we bought a beautiful, big home, bought a fancy car, and we consumed and threw away with little thought. We worked all week to pay for the house, to pay for the car, and to pay for our food. Our life of luxury brought more 'needs'- a need for new clothes for work, a need for more things to fill our home, a need for more money. But no matter how much we accumulated, no matter how much we owned, there was still something inside of me that felt empty. It felt wrong.
I remember one night, right after we had sold our house, laying in the camper and listening to the outside noises of the country. We no longer had a large home. We had sold many of our possessions. We didn't have much space. Yet, I felt such a sense of calmness; a real sense of peace. As if God was reassuring me that this was where He had wanted me to go all along.
God instructs us through Paul to aspire to live a quiet life, to mind our own business, and to work with our hands. Now living a quiet life doesn't mean you need to quit your job and sell your house. You can if you feel called to it, but I'm not sure that's what is being said here. Instead, God is reaching into our hearts, asking us to live for Him. To live quietly, without drawing attention to ourselves through our actions and loud words, without boasting about our possessions, without screaming in anger. Giving our thoughts to Him, our worries to Him, our hearts to Him. He tells us to mind our own business, tending to our own families, nurturing our own children, doing what we can within our own homes. He instructs us to work with our own hands, providing for our own families, taking care of our own slice of Earth, and doing what we can for ourselves.
There are things in this world that we simply cannot be quiet about. And God knows that too. Standing up for what is right and speaking out against what is wrong is not what I think this verse is about. Instead, the focus of this verse, to me, is to be in control of yourself. Be in control of your voice, your feelings, your hurt, your anger. Don't involve yourself in other people's affairs. Don't boldly post on social media things you know will make others upset. Believe what you will, yet stay humble. Live in a simple way, a way that values contentment and values over possessions and wealth. When the world becomes overwhelming and the problems become too much, look inward to your home. What can you do here to make a difference? How can you show these people love today, compassion today, hope today?
In my life, living quietly means tuning out the things this world says I 'need'. It means living with less, focusing on relationships, and living off the land. It means taking care of the Earth and being thankful for all that she gives to us to survive. It means focusing on my family, teaching these little ones about what is right and wrong, rather than to proclaim my voice angrily on social media. I aspire to live quietly because it was God who has asked me to do.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
What does living quietly look like for you?
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