kid shushingWhen we hear that word we might immediately think of a teacher or librarian demanding silence within their respective domains. We might even think back to an intimate moment between parent and child when the sobs of a hurt are comforted with a gentle “Ssshhhhhhhhhhhh, it’s going to be alright.”

If you want to get all official look up the word “sh” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and you’ll read that it is, “used to tell someone to be quiet… used often in prolonged or rapidly repeated form to urge or command silence or less noise.”

Now, you might be saying, “That’s all very interesting, Len, but what does that have to do with anything?” Well, I’ve recently been thinking a lot about a very interesting verse and what it means for our lives as followers of Jesus. Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:11.

“…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,”

I would think that if you asked 25 Christians what their ambition in life is, very few, if any, would answer, “I want to lead a quiet life.” Yet, there it is in plain print.

This isn’t just a suggestion to contemplate either. It is a command from the great Apostle Paul to believers of Thessalonica. If we take Biblical truth seriously, we must consider this command as it applies to our own experience and to the way we should live our lives. So, what does “lead a quiet life” look like?

Some people of the past have taken it to mean that to be a good Christian you can’t talk. They take the first scenario above – what I call “the Librarian scenario – that God is in heaven with a frown on His face and a divine finger to his lips shushing us sternly.

But to be serious Bible students we have to ask “Is that really what the Word is saying here?” If it is, then our best churches would indeed be very silent places!

I looked at the original Greek word for “quiet” in this verse and discovered the word, “hesuchazo” pronounced hay·soo·khad·zo. That didn’t tell me much until I looked up hesuchazo in Vines Dictionary of New Testament Words where I discovered that Greek actually has two words for “quiet” – hesuchazo and eremos pronounced ay’-rem-os.

The difference being, eremos means “a tranquility arising from without” while hesuchazo means “a tranquility arising from within.” Do you see the implication of our verse? We should, as Christ-followers, make it our ambition – our desire and goal – to be at peace because of a force within us, not because we’re forced to by an outside influence or command.

The Scripture tells us that, as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit permanently indwelling our hearts.

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”         Galatians 4:6

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.         John 14:26–27

It’s clear, in the Greek, that we should be ambitiously desiring a heart resting in a quiet peace not because of some outside cosmic force shushing us into submission but because of an intimate relationship with a loving Father, an understanding Christ, and a reassuring Holy Spirit who brings us close and whispers “Ssshhhhh, everything is going to be alright… I’m right here.”

Now that’s peace! That’s tranquility because of the inside, indwelling presence of our great God, Savior, and Helper!!

So, when life seems hard; when trials come; and you feel overwhelmed, that’s the time to make it your ambition to “lead a quiet life.”

Think about it…


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