"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to 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 Thess. 4:11-12
Make it your ambition - Sometimes we get the idea that Christian ambition is wrong, that we are to drift through life accepting everything that happens to us. Paul instructs us to have ambition. "Make it" is deliberate thought and intent. We can have desires and goals and reach toward them with all our effort. What makes Christian ambition right or wrong is what we are ambitious for and how we go about attaining it. We may be ambitious for a promotion at work, but if we go about it by hurting or cutting down other people we have left good Christian ambition behind and entered in to sin. Both the goal and method must be pleasing to God. Many of the ambitions of a Christian will be far different from the desires of other people. Our eyes are on different objectives. Our heart is directed toward the Lord Jesus Christ and His will for our lives.
to lead a quiet life, - A quiet life and a boring life are not the same thing. A quiet life is where we are able to pursue the will of God for our lives without hindrance. It means we are not out to cause trouble for others just for our own excitement. It does not mean that we do not oppose evil when necessary, but we are not revolutionaries. We know people are changed by the Word of God, not by guns and harassment.
to mind your own business - We should not be busy-bodies or poke into matters that are no concern to us. Even as we want to live a quiet life, we should allow others - even non-believers - to lead a quiet life. Yes, we present the gospel and try to win them to the Lord Jesus in appropriate ways, but we do not interfere in their lives or try to hinder them in living the way they see fit - as long as it is not criminal activity. They will answer to God, not to us. We are ready to help anyone who wants it, but we do not force our way into where we are not wanted.
and to work with your hands, - Socialism is always anti-Christian. Work is a blessing from God and all His children should work to provide for their own needs and be able to help others in true need. I know that sometimes through sickness, injury or government oppression, Christians are not able to work as they would like to, but the desire should be there. We should always keep an eye out for legitimate opportunities to earn income for our needs and the blessing of others.
just as we told you, - This was nothing new. They had already been instructed in these things. However, we tend to become lazy and forgetful. We need to be reminded. Sometimes we focus on so-called "spiritual" things that we forget that God put us in a physical universe so we can develop, mature and be tested to see what our true abilities are. God is more interested in forming the character of Christ in us than in how long we spend in Bible study, prayer, or prophecy!
so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders - It is our daily life that is our greatest witness. Unbelievers watch as we go through trials, temptations, and the hardships of life. They see how we react when we hit our finger with a hammer or discover that we have cancer. They know whether we complain or give thanks. They want to see a faith that is real, not that we can entertain them with a concert-type church service. The ones who are really seeking want to see Truth in our lives, not have all their desires pampered to.
and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. - One of our most important goals is not to be a burden on anyone. We all need help from time-to-time, but it should be temporary. Our desire should be to depend on God and to provide for our family and ourselves. We want to be a blessing to others, not a burden on society, the church, or our family.