A tranquil evening in the Coleman household was once interrupted by a seemingly intrusive commercial shouting, "If you are going to live... LIVE LOUD!" The ad, encouraging viewers to purchase a new model of a car brand, sought to lure the audience in with flashing images of fast cars, bright lights, wealth, and fame. It was an impressive representation of the lifestyle our culture celebrates. When we see things like this, we can be drawn into the temptation to make our lives stand out like a billboard in Times Square. Just by scrolling through our social media feeds, we may feel the desire for our lives to be seen, noticed, and affirmed by others.
Nevertheless, the Bible encourages us to live a different kind of life. One that isn't blaring or flashy, or even monumental. Instead, a life that brings great delight to the Lord. We see the idea of a "quiet life" referenced in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 as an encouragement and charge written by Paul to the Thessalonians. Paul charges the saints of Thessalonica to seek the quiet life, to mind their own business, and to work diligently. He knows the value of this to those who are observing because it is so contrary to the way people in their city were behaving at the time. This kind of life revealed itself in many ways, primarily through their pride, envy, and restlessness. Similarly, in our world today, we rarely hear encouragement from the surrounding culture to live quietly. "Quietness" is often equated with passivity or indifference; however, this is not a reference to the volume of our voices, but rather to the soundness of our spirit. If we are called by Scripture to aspire to live quietly, we would be wise to seek understanding on what that looks like. As we aspire to live as God's Word calls us to, we find great help in reading and clinging to Scripture. Here are a few ways the Bible helps to shape our understanding of a quiet life that is hidden in Christ.
A quietness of the heart is displayed in humility. Philippians 2:3 calls us to, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Humility is being untroubled when no one notices or praises you. Humility rids us of the temptation to compete with the lives God has given to others. It kills pride and arrogance in our hearts. It allows us to serve others freely and generously with no expectation of what they can give us in return. Humility is living with a quiet peace for the life God has gifted you with. It isn't envious or boastful. Humility doesn't scream for attention; it seeks to have the attention placed upon Jesus Christ. Jesus paves the way for walking in humility when He, the Son God, did not count His equality with God something to be used for His advantage (Philippians 2:6). We have the opportunity to reflect this kind of soft spoken life when we live humbly unto the Lord. True humility is a character trait rooted in, sustained by, and fulfilled in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Contentment quiets the desire to do more, have more, and see more! 1 Timothy 6:6-7 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out." A life of contentment rests secure knowing that if nothing else is given to us on earth, the gift of Jesus was already more than enough. It flows from a recognition that everything good in this life that is given to us is grace. We bring nothing to the table of our salvation but sin, and yet Christ made a way for us to righteousness. The flashing lights of earthly ambition will dim with our lives, but the eternal hope of Jesus will always shine brightly, even beyond this life. A quiet heart of contentment is not restlessly stirring for something else, but secure in the greatest gift ever given: the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.
In the quietness of humility and contentment, we are freed to live faithfully in the work we are called to as ambassadors of Christ. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23-24). We have been placed in this time period, with these specific families, homes, jobs, and communities for a reason. God has purposefully called us to where we are and the work that we do. We are called to faithfulness in our work, our homes and our communities, because it matters in the big picture of the Kingdom. Much of our days are mundane and in no way Instagram-worthy. But instead of writing these simple moments off or complaining and looking for more, we can labor in quiet diligence and faithfulness unto the Lord. Every act of faithfulness--whether washing dishes, folding laundry, working 9am-5pm, training up children, loving your spouse, devoting time to the church, or engaging your community--all of it is being threaded into the tapestry of Kingdom work by God's weaving hand. Everything that we do provides an opportunity to work, serve, and live unto the Lord. May we work quietly and diligently until glory comes, so that we may hear those treasured words when we arrive: "Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:23)
Hidden in Christ
Ultimately, the closer we walk with Christ, the more desirable this quiet life becomes to us. A quiet life is a life of humility, contentment, and faithfulness, all hidden in the finished work of Jesus. When hidden in Christ, our lives display what is God-honoring and God-glorifying. A quiet life might not seem grand or attractive in the eyes of the world. It may not be the ideal of a television commercial or stick out to someone on an Instagram feed. However, 1 Peter 3:4 reminds us of its worth, "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." In the eyes of God, a quiet life hidden in Christ is of high value and praise. So may our aim be a life of spiritual quietness: a powerful quietness that pierces into the noise of this fallen world and speaks only to the good of His glory and praise.