Question: "Why should we make it our goal to lead a quiet life (1 Thessalonians 4:11)?"
Answer: Believers are saved for a purpose—to show forth God’s glory and character (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:9). In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul instructs Christians to live a life pleasing to God so that we fulfill our God-ordained mission. Paul writes, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others” (1 Thessalonians 4:11–12, NLT).
Through union with Jesus Christ, God calls us to be sanctified or spiritually transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 8). Our transformation results in sexual purity, brotherly love, and holy living (1 Thessalonians 4:1–12). To lead a quiet life is to live or behave quietly, to lead a life free from disruption or commotion. The original Greek term is translated elsewhere in the Bible as “tranquility,” “rest,” and “hold (one’s) peace.”
Paul taught that the believer’s lifestyle ought to be characterized by tranquility and restfulness. In 2 Thessalonians 3:11–12, he wrote, “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.” According to 1 Thessalonians 4:11, part of leading a quiet life is refusing to meddle (“mind your own business”) and staying occupied (“work with your hands”).
In the early days of Christianity, when a person converted to faith in Jesus Christ, there often arose a public outcry that resulted in oppressive persecution and mistreatment. Paul mentioned several times in his letter to the Thessalonians that the believers had suffered for their faith (1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2:14; 3:3–4). When he counseled them to “make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business” (1 Thessalonians 4:11, NLT), Paul was offering an exceedingly practical bit of advice. By keeping their heads low, they would avoid further trouble for themselves. The apostle Peter gave similarly sound advice: “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world” (1 Peter 2:12, NLT).
Paul told Timothy to pray “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:2–4). Our godly behavior directly affects our testimony and our ability to witness and effectively lead people to Christ.
It requires discipline developed through spiritual maturity to lead a quiet life. We must make a purposeful effort to reign in emotional, impulsive responses that stir up arguments and other quarrelsome behavior. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” taught Jesus, “for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Scripture often commends a calm, self-possessed attitude (Psalm 35:20; 131:1–2; Matthew 12:19; Isaiah 42:2). Wisdom literature warns, “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14). “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel,” states Proverbs 20:3. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention,” affirms Proverbs 15:18 (ESV).
According to 1 Peter 3:1–2, quiet tranquility speaks more loudly than words, enabling an unsaved spouse to “be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives” (NLT). For this reason, Peter encourages wives to clothe themselves “with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God” (1 Peter 3:4, NLT).
In this turbulent world in which we live, the peace of God is an appealing concept. If we want to be an attractive witness for Christ influencing non-believers to see God’s glory and come to Him in faith, we’ll make it our ambition to lead a quiet life. We won’t go around making a lot of noise, interfering in the lives of others. We won’t be driven to argue and boast but instead work hard and assume a humble, low profile both in the church and among unbelievers.