Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and 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

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.—Psalm 24:1,2

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.—Matthew 6:34

I’ve always found 1 Thessalonians 4:11 to be one of the most surprising verses in the Bible.  It’s surprising because it was written by the Apostle Paul, who I’ve always pictured as a very driven, intense person.  Paul poured out his life for the sake of the Gospel.  He planted churches all over the Roman Empire, wrote half the New Testament, and modeled for us what it means to live in complete devotion to Christ.

It’s unexpected, then, that Paul would tell a church full of young believers that their ambition should be to lead a quiet life.  Not to turn the world upside down, but to honor Jesus through simple obedience, by being good citizens and faithful stewards of whatever God had entrusted to them.  He told them it was okay to work with their hands, and that God needed people to live ordinary, honest, hard-working lives in such a way that the people of this world could see the difference the Spirit of Christ makes in a person.

You don’t have to turn the world upside down.  You don’t have to fix all of the problems out there.  You just have to be faithful in the things God has put in front of you to do.

I heard someone say recently that there is a downside to all of the news and information we have at our fingertips now through the wonders of modern technology, which is that we run the risk of being “over-informed.”  With a glance at our phone, we become aware of an ugly conflict between members of our community, a school shooting on the other side of the country, and an earthquake on the other side of the world.  We are overwhelmed with information about bad things happening that we can’t control.  Often there is nothing we can do to affect the situation, but now we are burdened with the knowledge of it.

Of course, we can pray.  I’m glad to know about what’s happening in Israel and Ukraine, because I can pray for the people who are hurting.  I’m grateful for the technology that makes it possible to keep tabs on how missionaries are doing, and how a friend’s surgery went in another state.  The beautiful thing about prayer is that it is the opposite of carrying a burden; it allows me to release the situation into God’s hands, realizing that I have done my small part, and now the responsibility lies with Him, where it belongs.

Too often, though, when we don’t pray, or when we allow ourselves to dwell on certain situations for too long, we end up walking around carrying more weight than any one person was ever meant to carry.  Having the world at our fingertips shouldn’t mean carrying it on our shoulders.  Furthermore, it often distracts us from the things that are our responsibility, the things God does want us to be concerned about.  It’s okay to be concerned about the crisis on our southern border, but if you’re obsessing about that while neglecting God’s command to love the people in your neighborhood, that’s a problem.  It’s okay to be concerned about who is going to win the election at the end of this year, but in the meantime, how’s your marriage?  What are the things God has placed right in front of you, the things you’re accountable to Him for, that deserve the best of your time and energy?

You don’t have to fix the world.  God doesn’t expect you to solve all of the problems that are out there.  He does expect you to love the people around you, to work hard, and to be faithful in the little things.  Psalm 24 says that this great big world belongs to Him, which is a good thing, because it’s more than you and I can manage.  Jesus told His followers not to worry about tomorrow, because each day has enough trouble of its own.  This week, what are the things God wants you to be concerned with, areas where you can truly make a difference and be a blessing, and what are the things He wants you to let go of and entrust to Him?

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