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JFH Devotionals by J.M. Farro

Winning the Respect of Outsiders

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to 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

Hardly a day goes by that I don't pray these Scriptures for myself, my loved ones, and Christ followers everywhere. I believe that when we are living in accordance with these verses, God can use us to impact the lives of countless people while we are here on the earth.

The first thing the Lord instructs us to do here is to "make it [our] ambition to lead a quiet life". I can remember a time in my youth when I was living anything but a quiet life. I had just experienced the first real heartbreak of my young life, and I began going out every night after work. If I couldn't get a friend to go with me, I would go by myself. I wanted to be constantly surrounded by people and noise, in an effort to avoid dwelling on my pain, disappointment, and fear of the future. Quiet moments were the last thing I wanted to experience. What I didn't know then was that I was actually delaying my recovery and healing, instead of hastening it. If I had only stayed at home some evenings and sought God's comfort and strength, and His will for my life, I could have experienced the restoration and rewards that only He could give. Living a quiet life doesn't mean that we can't have any fun. On the contrary, it means being in the will of God, and living the blessing-filled life He has called us to.

The next thing the Lord tells us to do in this passage of Scripture is to "mind [our] own business". Years ago, when my extended family was going through some serious trials, I became so entangled in their affairs that it threatened my health and my sanity. I was a young wife and mother at the time, and I knew that I was not giving my husband and children the loving attention they deserved, as long as I was much too focused on the problems of others. After praying and doing some soul-searching, I finally told my relatives that from then on, they were to keep me updated only on a "need-to-know" basis. In other words, I didn't need to be involved in all of the behind-the-scenes nonsense going on among my family members. Did my new ground rules make some people angry and indignant? You bet it did. But I stood firm, and in the long run, it has saved me and my immediate family a world of hurt and harm. Trust me, there are things that you and I are better off not knowing, even where our loved ones are concerned. And if we seek the Lord about establishing boundaries and borders for our relationships, He will reward us with more joy and peace than we ever dreamed possible.

When the Scripture tells us to "work with [our] hands," it means that we should give our God-given assignments and responsibilities the best of our time and attention. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) bears this out when it says: "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." You and I have a job to do while we are still on this earth. That's one reason why, when we were saved, God didn't just take us up to heaven. He has "good works" for us to do here and now, and as we seek Him and His will for us daily, He will show us what they are, and He will equip and empower us to perform them with supernatural skill and energy. Keep in mind that your personal "ministry" could involve your duties as a parent, a child, a spouse, a neighbor, or an employee. Or, it could involve all those things. Once we get into the "flow" of serving where and how God wants us to, we will reap the material and spiritual rewards He has in store for us.

And what is the main goal of following the divine instructions that First Thessalonians 4:11-12 teaches? "So that [our] daily life may win the respect of outsiders." And "so that [we] will not be dependent on anybody." As we follow God's will in all of the areas mentioned here, we will experience the supernatural power, protection, and provision that will gain the respect of those who do not know the Lord, and we will position ourselves to influence and impact their lives for all eternity!

Prayer: Lord, help me to live a quiet life, and to spend regular quiet times in Your presence and Your Word. Teach me how to mind my own business, and to establish boundaries for my life and my relationships that will enable me to live the Christ-centered, fruitful life that You've called me to. Reveal to me the works You want me to focus on at this time, and help me to perform them with supernatural skill and joy. Thank You that as I follow Your will and Your ways in these areas, I will "command the respect of the outside world, being dependent on nobody [self-supporting] and having need of nothing"! (1 Thessalonians 4:12 AMP)

- J. M. Farro


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