Green acres is the place to be
Farm livin’ is the life for me
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside
Anybody remember that opening song? It was from a TV sitcom that ran from 1965 to 1971. It starred Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, a New York City couple who have moved to a country farm to live a simpler life. Though it was meant as a comedy of city folk attempting to run a farm, it also tapped into the desire to experience a less complicated life. We can read daily of those who are tired of the rat race and decide to quit their careers to head off to the country for a slower pace. Many of us, I’m sure, have often longed for something less hectic, less noisy, something quiet.
The apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 states the following: “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, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” The word ambition means, “to seek after earnestly, to aspire to”. Paul is saying that leading a quiet life should be our aspiration and be sought after. Not only should we desire quiet and peace, we are told to make it a goal!
In Paul’s day in the Roman culture, there was a practice of a client/patron relationship. That is, a rich patron would support financially a “free client”, a person who was a free Roman citizen, who in turn would be required to speak well of the patron and do favors that were requested of him (think of the godfather). This was such a widespread practice that clients were often considered parasites that lived off the good will of others (which they did.) As they often had much free time and were expected to give good press concerning their patron, clients would often spend their time in political discussions in various forums of the city. Clients lived in dependence on the system and were busybodies. Paul taught that it was not to be this way for believers. Paul makes it clear that he had already spoken regarding this, and that the motivation is for believers to provide for their own needs. The NLT states verse 12 this way: “Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” While Paul is not teaching that Christians should not be involved in politics, he is saying that our lives should be marked by focusing on our walk with God and to take care of our own business. That way we will not be in need because of our idleness.
Many times, our own decisions are the source of our stress and anxiety. Paul makes it clear that our lives are to be lived quietly or “in stillness”. This makes me think of still waters and green pastures. To put my hands down and know that God is God alone. It is often the case that the less I mind my own business, the more anxious, tense and disquieted I get. Oftentimes we can get sucked into a world that seems to go faster and faster. We are so concerned about many things, and the tension rises as the demands grow. We all need a reset from time to time, to hit pause and reevaluate. To stop fussing about the things I cannot not change and focus on my own business. To live in the green pastures (acres?) by the quiet waters. Maybe that time is now?