In 1Thessalonians 4, Paul addresses specific questions and issues in the Thessalonian church. First, Paul addresses how Christians should handle their sexuality. Next Paul tackles work. His advice is take responsibility for yourself and strive to follow God, rather than impact the world.
The young Thessalonian church faced the same hostility that drove Paul out of town. Timothy went back to check on them. Paul wrote this letter in response to Timothy’s report.
In the first two chapters, Paul briefly reminded them:
- As believers, their great hope is waiting for Jesus to return so that they might inherit a place in the kingdom of God.
- In the meantime, their lives are to be marked by a pursuit of holiness now.
Paul now calls them to live their lives in accordance with their hope and faith.
9Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. – 1Thessalonians 4:9-12
- In this context, love is not a warm fuzzy feeling, but rather how we act toward God and others.
- Paul commends the Thessalonians because their love took the action of providing financially for others.
- Because their community proved themselves to be generous, they attracted some “parasites.”
- Paul encourages a discerning love and taking responsibility for your own needs.
- Paul tells them to “have ambition to live quietly.”
- To live quietly is to humbly accept the boundaries God gives.
- When we are addicted to having impact, living quietly is hard. Paul’s advice is strive for faithful obedience to God’s plan, rather than impact.
- God has called each of us to take responsibility for our own welfare (e.g. Proverbs 6:6-11; Proverbs 21:25; Proverbs 24:30-34). Loving my neighbors includes not being a financial burden to them if I can avoid it.
- Not only is it good for me to provide for my ow needs, it is unloving to be lazy such that I must rely on the generosity of others.
- There are times when financial need is real and unavoidable and nothing to be ashamed of. That is a different situation than refusing to provide for my own needs or my family’s needs.
- Again the core issue is am I choosing to follow God’s way or my way? The choices I make not only make a difference in my daily existence, they reflect who I trust and what I’m counting on.
Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.
Series: 1&2Thessalonians: Between Times
Study: 1Thessalonians Resources
Scripture references are from the English Standard version.