Practical Advice for Holy Living
I Thess. 4:11 to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, 12 so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.
The Thessalonians were excited about the return of Jesus Christ. In fact, some within the community had quit their jobs because of their excitement and thought it no longer necessary to work. This was creating a burden for the remainder of the community because they had to provide for the needs of those who had chose to be idle!
This practical advice was meant to encourage them to be responsible individuals, even when awaiting Jesus’ return. They were to be respected because they were hard workers, living quietly and minding their own affairs. In other words, they were not to be stirring up trouble within the community.
Their own lifestyle was one which was to be a testimony to the outside world. The holiness of Jesus Christ reflected in them was to be visible in their holy living.
This advice is just as relevant for followers of Jesus Christ in the 21st century, as it was in the 1st century. Working hard and being responsible is a witness to the world.
Basil the Great, writing in the 4th century gave this advice:
The Christian should not make a display of dress or shoes, as this is indeed idle ostentation. He should use inexpensive clothing for his bodily needs. He should not spend anything beyond actual necessity or for mere extravagance. This is an abuse. He should not seek honor nor lay claim to the first place. Each one ought to prefer all others to himself. He ought not to be disobedient. He who is idle, although able to work, should not eat. Moreover, he who is occupied with some task which is rightly intended for the glory of Christ ought to limit himself to the pursuit of work within his ability. (LETTERS 22)
Basil has made me a little convicted today of my shoe collection. If I were honest, it’s far larger than it needs to be. The temptation to spend beyond what I really need is real. Yet what would happen if God’s children were cautious with all that they had?
In today’s language I think the writer of the Epistle would tell us:
Live within your means. Don’t use credit cards or go into debt to feed an unrealistic lifestyle. Show the world that Christians don’t need to have all the “stuff” of the world to be happy but can be content with having their needs met.
Work hard and be generous. Don’t expect the community of faith to take care of you if you’re not willing to work hard yourself. Put an effort into finding work and don’t reject a job because you think that you’re “above” that kind of position.
The world is watching and wondering how Christians will live. Holy living is displayed in our practical and ordinary every-day actions. May they be a testament to our Lord.
Lord, thank you for convicting my heart today. Amen.