“Joy is found when you direct your ambition and energy towards a quiet life of peace.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 18, 2021
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 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 4:9-12, NIV
As the latest round of holiday shopping and sales has reminded us, we live in a culture of excess. Whatever you have, it isn’t enough. Last year’s version is obsolete, and your happiness and fulfillment now depend on having the latest release. And yet, as we all know, this vicious cycle never ends, never delivers on its promise of satisfaction and contentment. Instead, it leaves us perpetually anxious and unsettled, either longing for that which we do not have, or filling our lives with more and more stuff that has to be managed and maintained.
While this is true with material goods, we also often live with a form of “relational excess.” In addition to the acquisition of more stuff, we take on the emotional weight and baggage of others. At times this may be healthy, such as bearing the burden of a loved one who is in a difficult season or situation. However, we easily and often extend well beyond the bounds of relational health, meddling in things that simply are none of our business. This is true of the neighborhood gossip on the street, and it is true of our hyper-attentiveness to the 24-hour news cycle.
Into this malaise, St. Paul offers ancient words of wisdom that are timeless and true: mind your own business! Simple as it may sound, it is remarkably hard to consistently and faithfully tend to the details of your own life. And yet, if your own house is not in order, if your own heart is not at peace, you will never approach the outside world with the charity and love that we are meant to embody as followers of Christ. Instead, you will be overcome by persistent and unshakable anxiety, born from a life that is overrun by material and relational excess.
Joy is found when you direct your ambition and energy towards a quiet life of peace. As Paul exhorts us, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). We do not stumble into this way of life- it requires intentional and ongoing work! Ambition, when rightly directed, is a gift from God, not a curse. Yet choose today to use it, not to acquire goods, power, or relational stress, but to instead free your heart and life from the cares of the world so you can be fully present to God in the everyday joys and struggles of life.
Father, remind us of the joy that is found in a simple and quiet life of peace, content in every way, knowing that we are loved by you, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
What material or relational baggage have you taken on that threatens to steal your joy and ability to live a quiet and simple life?
Ecclesiastes 4:6; Luke 12:15; 1 Timothy 6:6-7
Josh Garrels: 10,000 Reasons
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