A quiet life might not sound attractive, but if we consider how God has called us to live, this is the way it should be:
Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.1 Thessalonians 4:11
We Identify with Peter Versus Judas (not Iscariot)
There were two disciples named Judas. The lesser known is “Judas the son of James” (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13) or “Thaddaeus” (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18). The only time he’s mentioned outside of the above mentioned four lists of The Twelve is John 14:22, which says: “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’”
That’s it! His claim to fame is asking Jesus this question.
If asked which of the disciples they identify with, most people will say Peter for two reasons:
- Peter is known for opening his mouth when he shouldn’t, which we can all relate to: “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man” (Jam 3:8).
- People don’t identify with the other disciples, because there’s so little said about them. You can’t identify with people you don’t know.
We tend to think of The Twelve as some of the most famous men in history, but after Peter, James, John, Judas, and Thomas, what can we say about the other seven? How famous can you really be when most people don’t know anything about you, including even your name?
The same could be said of most of:
- The judges: we know Gideon and Samson, maybe Ehud and Othniel, but who knows Tola, Jair, Elon, or Abdon?
- The kings: we know David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Josiah, but who knows Amaziah or Jotham?
- The prophets: we know Samuel, Elijah, or Jeremiah, but who knows Amos or Obadiah?
Most of Us Are Like Judas
Most all of us are going to be a lot more like Judas Thaddaeus, Tola, Jotham, or Amos, than Peter, Gideon, David, or Elijah.
Why does God have to tell us this except that it’s tempting to NOT:
- Lead a quiet life: we crave fame, attention, and recognition.
- Mind our own business: our world loves to advertise what others are doing. This is one reason social media is so popular.
- Work with our hands: we naturally tend toward laziness.
God wants us leading simple, faithful, consistent lives of obedience, which – for most of us – means days filled with small, ordinary activities. Sometimes we can begin to spurn these routines, but:
Do not despise the day of small things, for the LORD rejoices to see these things take place.Zechariah 4:10
God finds joy in the small things we do. He takes pleasure in us leading simple, faithful lives, and for most of us that’s going to look like a very ordinary, non-glamorous life. It’s going to look like being…
- A Thaddaeus versus a Peter
- A Jotham versus a David
- An Amos versus an Elijah
But these are lives that please God, and lives that He’s called us to live!
For over half of the disciples, their ministries – even while living with the Lord Himself – involved so many “small things” we have no idea what they did.
Leading a Quiet Life Can Be Encouraging
I don’t mean this to be discouraging. I actually hope it can be very encouraging, because in the world you have to worry about being big and noticed. But in God’s Kingdom, serving Him – and serving Him quietly, faithfully, and humbly – is about the highest calling there is!
Consider these two verses:
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31
There aren’t many “[smaller] things” than eating and drinking, but even they can be done “to the glory of God.”
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.Colossians 3:17
Whatever we do – no matter how small or insignificant – can be done in Christ’s name. God is looking for consistency in the ordinary activities of our daily lives that often seem insignificant or trivial.
Should We Seek Great Things Instead of Leading Quiet Lives?
The prophet Jeremiah had a faithful scribe named Baruch. He was probably Jeremiah’s closest friend, and for much of Jeremiah’s ministry, his only friend. Jeremiah gets the attention, but Baruch was also a man of God who faithfully stood by the prophet through years of persecution and rejection. Jeremiah was the most despised man of his day, and being his assistant meant being the only person on Jeremiah’s side and suffering when he suffered.
So something happened. Baruch started wanting more for himself. A quiet life consisting of faithfulness in small things was no longer enough for him.
Then something else happened. God rebuked him…
Do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them.Jeremiah 45:5
God actually told Baruch NOT to seek great things. This is like the opposite of the prosperity “gospel” or “name-it-and-claim-it” theology.
Why didn’t God want Baruch seeking these “great things”? It’s possible they weren’t necessarily selfish or sinful. Maybe he wanted marriage, children, or simply a normal life. But while these are common for most people, they weren’t part of God’s plan for the scribe. The application for us is we want certain things – and they might not be selfish or sinful – but they might not be part of God’s plan for our lives.
But more than likely the real problem for Baruch is found in the words “for yourself.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting great things for God, but Baruch wanted great things for himself. He had aspirations for position, honor, or distinction.
Being a scribe was a fairly lucrative profession. Most people couldn’t read or write, so someone who could do both could make a lot of money. Baruch knew if he didn’t serve Jeremiah he could’ve lived a much more comfortable and respected life than he experienced.
We all face the same temptation to “seek great things.”
What Does a Quiet Life Practically Look Like?
What does it look like to resist the temptation to “seek great things” and “lead a quiet life” that’s faithful in “small things”?
- For any husbands or fathers this means:
- Going to work every day.
- Striving to love your wife as Christ loves the church.
- Being a strong spiritual leader. Take your family to church. Involve your family in the body of Christ. Read the Word and pray together as a family.
- For any wives or mothers this means:
- For children this means obeying your parents. Being a blessing to them and your siblings.
- For any single young adults, this means staying pure, being a good steward of the time you have, and preparing to be a husband or wife.
And Jesus Himself is a great example for us. Even though He knew full well He could’ve lived as a King and experienced the best this world had to offer, His life lacked extravagance and glamour.
Sometimes we get caught up in the supernatural of His earthly life, but if you strip that away there was a plainness and simplicity. He performed miracles, but He often seemed reluctant (John 2:4, Matt 15:25-26). He chose to do so out of sympathy:
And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.Matthew 14:14; see also Matthew 9:36
Even then He said, “Don’t tell anyone” (Matthew 8:4, 12:16, 17:9).
He wanted to keep the focus on His teaching, and the service, modesty, and humility He exemplified. He was content simply fulfilling the will of His Father:
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”John 4:34
This should be our food too. We should find our purpose and satisfaction obeying the will of God the Father, and for each of us that’s going to mean “leading a quiet life” that’s faithful in “small things.”