Chapter 4 of 1 Thessalonians begins with the heading in the ESV, “A Life Pleasing to God.” For the Christian, there should be a “more and more” aspect of pleasing God and growing in holification/sanctification. Paul starts out with exhortations in the area of sexual purity (4:3-8), then moves to some challenges around brotherly love (4:9-10) and finally moves to finish off the section with three practical commands and two purposes for those commands. (4:11-12) Paul tightly intertwines the aspirational commands which address distinct areas of immaturity and concern in this young Thessalonian church. The particular concern of Paul continues in his next letter as we see the theme of diligence and industriousness repeated in 2 Thess 3. “For we hear that there are some among you who live in idleness, mere busybodies, not working at all.” (3:11) He is concerned with the church’s witness to the watching world. (4:12) Paul is communicating the importance of living a calm, peaceful quiet life while being diligent to tend one’s own affairs. Christians are to do this, not only because God is watching, but unbelievers are watching as well. (as well as our unregenerate kids) It’s easy for Christians to blend into our culture’s anxious and frenetic pace (Northeast Fast Living), the constant push to be involved in everybody’s business (Social Media Barrage), while also being plagued with procrastination and interruption mode (Lazy Busy). Christians are called to live in great contrast to the unbelieving world around them. Someone once said, “Show me your redeemed life and then I’ll be inclined to hear about your redeemer.” John MacArthur wrote, “When believers display diligent work attitudes and habits and live in a loving and tranquil manner that respects others’ privacy and does not intrude or gossip, it constitutes a powerful testimony to unbelievers and makes the gospel credible.”
- What three aspirations did Paul urge the church to aspire to more and more? (4:11)
- What two purposes did Paul give for those admonishments? (4:12)
- Does living quietly mean you don’t talk much? (4:11)
- What did Paul mean when he wanted them to work with their hands? (4:11) What if you are in the “laptop class” and do not have a manual labor role?
- Do you feel like your life is sometimes characterized by emotional restlessness and anxiety? How would you counsel someone else who came to you with a life of discontent and inner turmoil?
- In a similar fashion, Paul challenged the church of Ephesus in 1 Timothy 5:13. Why does the “busybody” syndrome seem to be a timeless challenge?
- The majority of our Christian evangelism at work is more “caught than taught”. True or False? Does your life broadcast a peace, joy and love in something far greater than yourself? What opportunities have you had to share “the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15) because of your calm, focused and diligent life?
- What is a Protestant or Puritan work ethic? Where did that positive reputation come from? What examples can you think of in history (Swiss watches, JSB-SDG, etc)