“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV)
A quiet life is a good life.
Paul’s topic in this passage is living to please God. We are to love one another as we go about our lives quietly. Day in, day out, seeking God, putting our hands to whatever task He has for us. Jesus sets the example for us. He led a quiet life.
Jesus was a carpenter (Mark 6:3 NIV). Carpentry during Jesus time was different than now. You couldn’t buy wood at Lowe’s. Carpenters went to the woods themselves, picked out the type, and cut it down. Not with chainsaws, manually:
“The carpenter stretches a line, he marks it out with a pencil; he fashions it with planes, and marks it with a compass; he shapes it … He cuts down cedars; or he chooses a holm tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest; he plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it” (Isaiah 44:13-15 NIV).
Inch by inch, life’s a cinch, yard by yard, life’s hard.
Carpenter’s live their lives inch by inch. Jesus learned his trade from his earthly father, Joseph, who taught him to build roofs and furniture. Each log needing cut, shaped, sanded, and sealed. Carpentry is a chain of small, monotonous acts that leads to a beautiful product.
Life is the same as carpentry. Each day we complete another inch as we go about our daily routines. Just as a carpenter uses sandpaper to smooth the rough wood, God uses the circumstances in our lives to refine us. Not overnight, day by day, quietly. The amount of time needed to cut a tree down, drag, cut, and reshape it into a table, isn’t quick.
When my husband and I were first married, we bought an unfinished wood table. Needing chairs, we purchased six from Craig’s list. Each chair required sanding and staining. The entire project took me weeks, and I didn’t have to build it. Using an electric sander on the chairs for the work was monotonous, time-consuming, and challenging. My body was sore after all the contorting needed to reach the tight spaces. But I found the time prime for praying and connecting with God. As I created new from old, I communed with my Creator.
As we live our quiet lives, God transforms us. Each day, He is sanding away the rough edges, polishing the finish, creating new life from the old. Not in an instant, but inch by inch.
Question of the Day:
How is God refining you today?
Further Reading: Jeremiah 16:16-18:23 NIV, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3 NIV, Psalm 81 NIV, Proverbs 25:6-8 NIV