1 Thessalonians 4:9-11
But as touching brotherly love you need not that I write to you: for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another.…
To pass from brotherly love to quiet industry is a natural transition. Love, peace, work are related virtues. Observe —
I. THAT A PACIFIC SPIRIT IS TO BE STUDIOUSLY CULTIVATED. "And that ye study to be quiet." The word "study" signifies to seek after an object with ambition, as though it were the highest honour to possess it. There is nothing some people dread so much as being quiet. They delight in a row, and if one does not happen as frequently as they wish, they make one for themselves. The political agitator, the money getter, the advocate of war, all seek to attain their ends in the midst of tumult. Nor is the sacred circle of the Church free from the violence of the irrepressible disturber. There are some people who never will be still: you cannot hold them still. They are full of suggestions for other people to carry out. Their tongue is a perpetual clatter. They fly from one department of work to another, and create distraction in each. They try one's temper; they harry one's nerves; they break one's peace. To such people it would be the severest task to obey the apostolic injunction — "That ye study to be quiet" — and yet no one in the wide world has more need to do so than they. A pacific spirit cannot be secured without much self-denying effort; but it is a jewel worth all the trouble and all the sacrifice (Proverbs 20:3; Colossians 3:12-15).
II. THAT A PACIFIC SPIRIT IS ATTAINED BY A PERSEVERING INDUSTRY IN PERSONAL DUTIES.
1. That personal duties have the first claim upon our efforts. "Do your own business." Attend first to whatever comes within your general or particular calling. The man who is inattentive to his own duties cannot with any reason dictate the duties of others. To do one's own business is the best safeguard against idleness and meddling curiosity. All strifes — domestic, social, ecclesiastical, and political, may be traced to meddlesomeness. The meddling man is "a fool," because he gratifies his own idle curiosity at the expense of his own well-being and the happiness of others. See that the business you do is your own business, and that you let that of your neighbours alone.
2. That personal duties demand genuine hard work. "And to work with your own hands." The claims of religion do not release us from secular toil, but rather demand that all the work of life should be done with consistency and diligence. Manual labour is not the only form of industry. The mind has often the harder task. The industry of some of our public men is amazing. There is no greater foe to piety than idleness. Many take more pains to go to hell than almost the holiest to go to heaven. used to say that a man who labours disheartens even the devil himself.
3. That industry in personal duties is enforced by apostolic precept. "As we commanded you." The apostle frequently did so, and set an example (2 Thessalonians 3:7, 8). Honest labour is not beneath the dignity of any, and he who works the hardest has the greater influence in enforcing industry upon others.
III. THAT A PACIFIC SPIRIT, COMBINED WITH DILIGENCE, RECOMMENDS CHRISTIANITY TO THOSE OUTSIDE THE CHURCH. "That ye may walk honestly towards them that are without" (ver. 11). Industry is no small part of honesty. A lazy man can never be an honest one. A restless, trifling busybody does unspeakable damage to religion. The unbelieving world, on the other hand, is impressed and attracted by the peaceful and diligent behaviour of the faithful.
IV. THAT A PACIFIC SPIRIT, COMBINED WITH DILIGENCE, ENSURES AN HONOURABLE INDEPENDENCE. "And that ye may have lack of nothing." It is more honourable to work than to beg. It is more blessed to be able to give than to receive. What a mercy it is not to know those temptations which arise from pinching poverty, nor yet to be necessitated to depend upon the cold-hearted charity of others. The patient, quiet plodder in the way of duty may not always be rewarded with affluence; but he is encouraged to expect enough. And the very spirit he has striven to cultivate has enriched him with an inheritance which few possibly attain — contentment with his lot. He, whose is the silver and the gold, will care for His loved and faithful servants (Psalm 37:25).
1. Quarrelsomeness and indolence cannot co-exist with a high degree of sanctity.
2. To secure the blessings of peace is worthy of the most industrious study.
3. The mightiest aggressions of the gospel upon the world are made quietly.
Parallel VersesKJV: But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.