When the Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians, they were newly recovering from paganism, and they were being severely persecuted by people who were once their “friends.” Paul didn’t encourage the new believers in Yeshua the Messiah to convert anyone…quite the opposite; he set up a three-point instruction for a lifestyle that would keep them out of trouble and establish them as lights in the midst of the darkness surrounding them.
“…be ambitious to be quiet, and to be engaged in your own affairs, and to be working with your hands, according as we charge you, that you may be walking respectably toward those outside and you may have need of nothing.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
Two of Paul’s three points are easy enough to get, but making quietness an ambition is an odd concept. Look at Paul’s instruction through the definitions of his terms:
“Be fond of attaining quiet; practice or mind your own business with continued, habitual action; do what your hands find to do, i.e., keep yourself busy. And why is this important? First, so you can provide for your own needs…you won’t need to ask anyone for anything; second, so that you behave decently toward those who surround you, who are outside your newfound faith and fellowship. Perhaps, by your example, you may win them over to the Messiah.”
Paul advocated, at least in the case of the Thessalonians, a very different kind of evangelism: one of example, rather than preaching.
Who surrounds us today and Whom do they see when they look at our lives? What if we are the only examples of Yeshua the Messiah to people we know, love, and serve; how does our example look? Would they want to know Him because they know us? Are we BE-ing Jesus, or just talking about Him?
Like Barbara Brown often says, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.”
Blessings and joy in the journey.