Ambition for the quiet life

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands. . . .”                                                                             1 Thessalonians 4:11

When I first read this, I wondered, “What does ambition have to do with leading a quiet life?  Isn’t that a contradiction?”  I think of ambition like an eager runner at the starting block of a race.  But if we do not have this wise ambition, our lives will be anything but quiet.
Running on through life in our default mode, without saying no to things, we are like a rock rolling downhill, accumulating a ton of things that stick to us as we go.  Our default mode is a very busy life.  It takes ambition to lead a quiet life.  To shed some of the baggage that is slowing us down and making us less effective for what the Lord put us here to do.  The writer of Hebrews said, “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. . .” (12:2)  Even things that are not sin can be encumbrances to God’s best life style for us.
It takes stepping back and assessing why we’re doing what we’re doing.  Asking ourself some important questions like, “Am I the right person for this job?  Or would this be better done by someone else?”  Or, “Is this opportunity coming to me at the right time in my life?”  Saying no is not always a cop-out.  Sometimes it can be the way of preserving our optimal usefulness
It’s good to think about what we are teaching others around us, like our children, spouse, and friends.  Do they admire us for our devotedness to service?  Or do they see us as driven and breathless and perhaps not very happy?
A parallel passage is Hebrews 4:9-11.  This speaks of the necessary choice to stop hoping our frantic efforts will make ourselves acceptable in God’s sight and trust wholly in Jesus’ death in our place to accomplish that.  However, the principle of giving up our busy efforts in favor of a life of trusting rest is the same.
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
This decision to pursue the quiet life is illustrated in a word picture from Psalm 131:
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.
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