Mind your own business and work with your hands. 1 Thessalonians 4:11
Years ago, my son Josh and I were making our way up a mountain trail when we spied a cloud of dust rising in the air. We crept forward and discovered a badger busy making a den in a dirt bank. He had his head and shoulders in the hole and was vigorously digging with his front paws and kicking the dirt out of the hole with his hind feet. He was so invested in his work he didn’t hear us.
I couldn’t resist and prodded him from behind with a long stick lying nearby. I didn’t hurt the badger, but he leaped straight up in the air and turned toward us. Josh and I set new world records for the hundred-yard dash.
I learned something from my brashness: Sometimes it’s best not to poke around in other people’s business. That’s especially true in relationships with fellow believers in Jesus. The apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). We’re to pray for others and seek by God’s grace to share the Scriptures, and occasionally we may be called to offer a gentle word of correction. But learning to live a quiet life and not meddling into others’ lives is important. It becomes an example to those who are now outside God’s family (v. 12). Our calling is to “love each other” (v. 9).
What happens when you meddle in other people’s business? What’s the first thing you should do instead for others?
God, teach me to know what it means to love others better.
The church at Thessalonica, imperfect like all human organizations, was nevertheless one of the premier congregations in the New Testament. Established by Paul, Silas, and Timothy (Acts 16:1–5; 17:1–3), this church quickly became a hub of missionary activity—in part because of the profound witness the Thessalonians presented of the transforming power of the gospel. Paul applauds this transformation in the opening verses of this letter, where he says that their witness had reached throughout their land: “They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). In a first-century Greek culture that proliferated with idols, their turning away from them speaks of dramatic change—turning away from dead idols of wood and stone to the God who is not only living but life-giving to all who trust Him. From idolatry to a living faith in the living God, the Thessalonians displayed true transformation.