Daily Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Once again, Paul praises the love that the Thessalonians have for one another and encourages them to excel still more. He instructs them to make it their ambition to lead a quiet life, attend to their own business, and work with their hands. This is quite the opposite objective from that of worldly ambition. Worldly ambition seeks fame, recognition, status, promotion, success in one’s career, and so on. Paul is on to something different. Christian ambition first seeks to lead a quiet life—defined by humility and obscurity. Christian ambition seeks second to attend to one’s own business—fulfilling one’s responsibilities in service and payment to others. Christian ambition seeks finally to work with our hands—earning an honest living doing whatever it is we do.

Why? Why strive for obscurity, focus on our own responsibilities, and work with our hands? So that we will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. If we live humble lives instead of striving for worldly success, we will not be tempted to take advantage of anyone else or use anyone else. Celebrity or success culture, even in the church, leads to the mistreatment of others. But, we want to behave properly toward others, even outsiders. So, we make it our ambition to live quiet lives. We also live quiet, humble, simple lives so that we will not be in any need. Those who need less need less, decreasing their own stress and increasing their happiness. The rich and famous kill themselves to stay rich and famous. When we focus on our own responsibilities, tend to our own business, we aren’t comparing ourselves to others, condemning others, and are free to love others no matter what they do. We will better ourselves in service to others and not make enemies—so being without need. When we work with our hands, no matter what our labor is on this earth, we can earn an honest living and provide for what we need as we live humble lives.

Making humility rather than success our ambition changes the focus of our whole lives and, ultimately, leads to a happier and simpler life—free of the world’s complications and stresses. Further, Paul connects living a humble life with love. As we excel still more in love, we will strive for humble lives, and the world will be better for it.

Leave a Reply