[We encouraged] . . . you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:12
In the poem “Rest,” the poet gently challenges our tendency to separate “leisure” time from “work,” asking, “Is not true leisure / One with true toil?” If you want to experience true leisure, instead of trying to avoid life’s duties, the author urges, “Still do thy best; Use it, not waste it,— / Else ’tis not rest. / Wouldst behold beauty / Near thee? all round? / Only hath duty / Such a sight found.”
The poet concludes that true rest and joy are both found through love and service—an idea that brings to mind Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians. After describing his calling to encourage believers “to live lives worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:12), the apostle gives more specifics.
And the picture he paints of such a life is one of quiet integrity, love, and service. Paul prays that God would “make [their] love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (3:12). And he urges believers in Jesus to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” to “mind your own business and work with your hands” (4:11). It’s that kind of life, quietly loving and serving in whatever ways God has enabled us, that reveals to others the beauty of a life of faith (v. 12).
Or, as the writer puts it, true joy is “loving and serving / The highest and best; / ’Tis onwards! Unswerving— / And that is true rest.”
How does God’s presence help you experience true joy? How are rest and service united in God’s kingdom?
Loving God, thank You that I don’t need to avoid the duties and rhythms of daily life to experience Your beauty. Help me to know the joy of a quiet life lived with You.
The apostle Paul cared about the reputation of the gospel. In his letter to the Thessalonian church, he wanted to remove any obstacle that would prevent the hope of Jesus from impacting the city. He had good reason too. When the apostle first visited Thessalonica, his proclamation of the gospel caused quite the stir, which devolved into riots, shouting, and arrests (Acts 17:1–9).
In his letter to the church that grew after he left, Paul told the people to not just show love for each other but to also live quietly and mind their own business (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Why? Verse 12 says that by doing so “your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.” The apostle wanted the fledgling church to know that peace and respectability were their greatest assets in advancing the message of Jesus in the world.
Learn more about the life of the apostle Paul.