Skip to content

Quiet Not Desperate

Read This Week: 1 Thessalonians 4

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. Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and mind your own business. – 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 11

The essayist, Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” This is a deep thought that captures the imagination. Thoreau was observing the nature of a hectic life and how busyness, important meetings, and narcissistic pursuits serve to make the human heart sick, desperate and left wanting.

He maintained that in spite of the look of importance and purpose, people are silently unfulfilled and have to run to things, adventures, relationships and other environments in search of meaning. He was right. The grind and things we try to fill our lives with have a tendency to make us quietly desperate people.

In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul tells us that a life that pleases God and is filled with His love can be quiet but not desperate. He wanted the Thessalonians and us to know that being a Christian means to bring every aspect of our lives, including the work we do and the margin we have, in sync with God’s will. This way, our desires, ambitions, and purposes are wrapped up in glorifying God, expressing our love for him and others, and increasing our joy.

When Paul uses the phrase “a quiet life” he means to be at peace and to not be concerned with running here and there trying to get into things that will bring significance or happiness. Jesus also taught this in Matthew 16. He asserted that there is nothing more important than our souls and their relationship with God. This should always take precedence over the frantic attempt to gain the whole world and be busy. Paul suggests that a quiet life centered on Christ and his love is the best avenue to preserving our soul and bringing glory to Him.

When we pursue God, he fills our lives with richness, beauty, wonder, and truth while replacing the pale, emotional yearnings incited by the rat race. Quiet desperation involved in pursuing what is temporary, fleeting and finite is not adequate to satisfy the longing of the human spirit. Only God has the capacity to fill that void. In this eternal perspective, life can be quiet in pursuit of God but it doesn’t have to be desperate.

When we have a vibrant relationship with Christ, desperation becomes confident hope. I don’t remember Thoreau writing about that.

14 Comments

  1. Ken on May 8, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    It’s so nice to get what you need from God and not have to look for love in all the wrong places. God will give you need: His peace, love, joy, comfort and so much more. Seeking God truly will fulfill you in ways that the world just cannot. If I have to be desperate, I want to be desperate for Jesus and I hope you will too.

    • Sam Centers on May 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

      So true as I was telling you about my turning point. I have went through a lot of trubled times as you very well know. And you all have helped me through. It was such a joyous moment when I finally received Him in to my life. It was almost a heart breaking moment in my life. I felt so much love. And so much loss for not coming to Him sooner.

      • Heidi on May 11, 2019 at 8:12 am

        Thank you for sharing Sam!
        I love to hear God through you, you touch so many with God’s wisdom!!
        Your a blessing to many ❤️

  2. Heidi on May 9, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul is encouraging the people to continue following the instructions that they had been taught. To put God first in their life, to continue to please God in their walk with Him.

    When you give your life to Jesus, your new life should continue to grow with Him and with others. Every day is a new day, so we are to continue to seek His purposes, plans, Devine appointments for our lives every day! God expects us to be willing to learn more and more every day with Him. His desires for you and me to reach out to others. The more you love God and desire His will and ways, you consider Him and you just know how to have that brotherly and sister love and concern for others.

    God is saying to us: look at where you’re at today and all you have learned. Don’t stop there. Keep seeking Me and my will in everything you do and say. Love never fails, there is my timing in everything too. So, learn how to be patient with yourself and others. Keep reaching out as I prompt you and let’s do it together. We are never to forget that God is working everything out for your good and theirs too.

    • Jason on May 10, 2019 at 5:37 pm

      Heidi, this was a strong point: “Keep seeking Me and my will in everything you do and say. Love never fails, there is my timing in everything too. So, learn how to be patient with yourself and others.” Living peacefully in a community requires us to trust the timing of God in resolving conflict and restoring relationships.

      I know I struggle mightily to wait on God to fix things as I want immediate resolution and because of that, I think I forfeit his peace and quietness of spirit that I desire in my life and that he wants for me. This is a needed reminder to always seek God even in those seasons and moments when we don’t understand.

  3. Brecken on May 9, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    The Greek word for ‘love’ in this chapter is ‘philadelphias’, which when broken down means ‘beloved brother’. Reaching out to those around us with this type of understanding of love is important for Paul to make clear to the population. The Church he envisions is one who embraces this mentality to grow stronger together, not place judgment on mistakes, and affect those who have not heard Christ’s word. When we walk alongside our Lord’s path, the temporary things in this world seem unimportant as we strive to teach God’s eternal love and grow our family. Through His love, we can altogether start a chain reaction and make a huge difference in an imperfect world.

    • Ken on May 9, 2019 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you for sharing Brecon. Your comment of brotherly love, reminds me of asking where does love come from? The source of our love comes from God and Jesus is our best example of God‘s love. Real love is a flow from God to us and through us to others. As we get to know Jesus and grow our relationship with Him, True love, God’s love abounds.

      God is saying, “I love you infinitely, you are the apple of my eye, you are perfect to me and I want my love to flow through you to others .”

    • Jason on May 10, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      Welcome to A Week in the Life, Brecken! Thank you for your insight and comments about brotherly love and God’s design for his community. I love the use of the word “philadelphia” in this context and the further implication of it here to not only love each other and grow stronger together but to cherish that pursuit as the desired way of communal life.

      Cherishing and loving each other leads to a peaceful and quiet life where people living in community mind their business and value the care of their neighbor over gossip, busyness, and judgment. It would be nice to live there, wouldn’t it?

  4. Sam Centers on May 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    So true. As I was telling you about my turning point, I’ve gone through a lot of troubled times. It was such a joyous moment when I finally received Him into my life and it was almost a heartbreaking moment in my life. I felt so much love yet so much loss for not coming to Him sooner.

    • Ken on May 10, 2019 at 9:02 pm

      I’m so proud of you, Sam and thankful to see God do great things in your life. As we all have experienced that moment with God, it reminds me of the phrase, “I was once blind but now I see.” True believers that really give their life to God, benefit greatly and it seems like, at that point, life really begins. A life of substance and victory with Christ and in the family of God.

    • Jason on May 13, 2019 at 4:36 pm

      Sam, thank you for sharing this on the blog. It’s personal and powerful and we need more testimonies of life change in this forum. I hear your heart on feeling the weight of not coming to Christ sooner, but I pray that aspect will never overshadow the peace you felt as you passed from death to life and the joy as you walk with Him now. He has and will continue to use you greatly.

      Reading your words made me a bit emotional and caused me to remember the time I surrender my life to Christ as a 20-year-old college student. I can still recall the moment, the grip of sin being lifted off my heart, and the freedom I felt as God saved me. Your words also made me think of the lyrics of an old song and they go something like this:

      I believe that the Christ
      Who was slain on the cross
      Has the power to change lives today
      For He changed me completely
      A new life is mine

      I am feeling thankful today for a new life in Christ and for brothers like you who are willing to share about your struggles before and after salvation. I appreciate you.

  5. Jeri Centers on May 12, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    In 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verse 11, God is saying to you and me that it is impossible to learn if you are talking all the time. Be a good listener and thereby show that you are wise in the Lord. You should never take on someone else’s work to do. You should be doing the job that God has called you to do. God has a job for each of us to do, it is not the same job as someone else. It is unique in the fact that you are the only one called to do that special job. Find out what the will of God is for your life and get busy doing it.

    • Jason on May 13, 2019 at 5:14 pm

      I love the boldness mixed with an exhortation in this comment, Jeri. It is an encouragement in that we are all uniquely shaped and gifted by God to serve Him with a purpose, but it is bold in the mandate to get about doing it. All Christians need to hear this as we should be more mindful of seeking God and His purpose for our lives and gifts instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing or should be doing. Well said and received.

  6. Kathy on May 21, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    God was saying to me through this 4th Chapter was The purpose of how you live your life is to please me and not yourself. I want you to be set apart from a godless culture, and refrain from sexual immorality. You should live differently than those who do not know me. Hold your own body in a way that honors me. My commandments are meant to prevent sin. Live a quiet life. It is easy to become addicted to entertainment and excitement these days. Don’t let this become a religion to you. The quiet life allows you to take the time and give your attention to listening to me. Then you will know me better. Work hard; don’t expect things to always come easily. Live your life as an example which will encourage non believers to become my followers. As Christians we may mourn the death of other Christians but not as others who have no hope. Jesus is coming back and we will all be reunited. The truth of the return of my son for all Christians should give you comfort.

    I do struggle a lot of time to take time out of my day for my quiet time. I still have time to watch TV and movies, entertainment videos,etc. that I really just need to turn off. Instead of looking forward to entertainment and excitement in the world, I need to look forward to my special time with God and letting Him fill my mind instead. That will bring me Peace and true excitement!.

Leave a Comment