Tuesday, May 26, 2015

To Live Quietly...

My other blog is called The Quiet Life. It refers literally to the fact that I do not like noise. I like to live where there will not be loud noises, sustained interrupting noises, or any other wise unpleasant noises. I do not like them.

More philosophically the blog title refers to this verse from 1 Thessalonians 4:11 which is an important verse to me,

and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,

I like the word 'aspire' and then the surprise of what comes next- 'live quietly'. Usually aspirations include lofty things like winning the Pulitzer or becoming President of the US. Or at least, getting that raise or becoming a homeowner. One does not aspire to be quiet. Not unless you're a Christian and you're used to the Bible illustrating an upside down lifestyle. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Meek shall inherit the earth. Do not expect to be served but to serve. Now we see that a holy aspiration is to live quietly. Why?



Excerpt:
First, his readers should lead a restful life. The word translated quiet (hēsychazein) means quiet in the sense of restfulness (cf. Acts 22:2; 2 Thes. 3:12; 1 Tim. 2:2, 11), rather than quiet as opposed to talkativeness (sigaō; cf. Acts 21:40; 1 Cor. 14:34). The former means “undisturbed, settled, not noisy,” while the latter means “silent.” Paul was telling the Thessalonians to be less frantic, not less exuberant. A person who is constantly on the move is frequently a bother to other people as well as somewhat distracted from his own walk with God. The latter can lead to the former. But a Christian who strives to be at peace with himself and God will be a source of peace to his brethren. Such quietude constitutes a practical demonstration of love for others.

Second, Paul recommended minding one’s own business. The connection with love for the brethren is obvious (cf. Prov. 25:17).

Third, working with one’s own hands demonstrates love for the brethren because a self-supporting person is not a burden to others. Paul himself set the example by working with his hands when he was in Thessalonica (1 Thes. 2:9). Too restful a life can be a problem also, and Paul guarded against that with this instruction. This verse dignifies manual labor. The reference also suggests that many, perhaps most, in the church came out of the working class. The Greeks deplored manual labor and relegated it to slaves as much as possible. But the Jews held it in esteem; every Jewish boy was taught a trade regardless of his family’s wealth. Work itself is a blessing, and working with one’s hands should never be despised by Christians. A man who is willing to work with his hands demonstrates his love for his brethren by being willing to humble himself to provide for his own needs so that he does not depend on others but provides for himself.

Constable, T. L. (1985). 1 Thessalonians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 703). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

9 comments :

  1. Aha! Surely this is the long-awaited commentary on the Duggar episode!

    ;) Being facetious. But I can definitely see how someone could take and use this as an argument--many social media commentors have implied that "they knew this could happen when they put their life on tv."

    It's ironic that the same passage advises against busybodies, which can be claimed of those who make it their business to keep up to date on celebrities' family lives -- a lot of the discussion of the Dugars recently is tending toward gossip--something the Bible condemns as strongly as it does thieves, liars, drunkards, etc.

    If you've kept out of it intentionally or for lack of having been made aware of it, I would say that Todd Friel's short article on it was the best of all the public statements out there. Recommended.

    I appreciate the word study on the definition of 'quiet.' Thanks,
    ~ Hakam

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    1. Hello Hakam Adam,

      LOL, I know. It seems like everyone and their brother is writing about the Duggars. I had several ladies ask me privately what I think, which I answered. But there is already so much ink...and I haven't kept up with the news (nor do I really want to), nor have I even watched their show...and when Friel came out with his essay I though, I cannot and should not try to improve on his work.

      I liked your insight about busybodies. I think it's good. It convicts me also.

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    2. Adam,
      I was surprised and uneasy that credible people like Mr Friel came to the defense of the Duggar family. His response was very good, I read it. However, it made me uneasy considering what is being reported of how the parents handled the situation (waiting until the statute of limitations was passed before reporting, having Joshua live under the same roof as his victims, the policeman/family friend ended up being in prison for child pornography). I have empathy for them, as I cannot imagine how hard it would be to have a child commit this kind of crime....I understand the desire to protect him, I do. But it *seems* as though they were dishonest in the handling of the situation, and I have not heard any admittance of that from them. So when Christians defend them in social media, I can see why there is such a backlash from other Christians and the world.

      We have the unregenerate world crying “hypocrites!”. On the one hand, it is understandable that they would misunderstand the term hypocrite in order to have some kind of grounds in their minds to be angry since the Duggars rightfully call homosexuality sin. It is also understandable that they do not understand the Gospel and that Christians are saved sinners, not non-sinners. As far as I can discern, Josh has owned his behavior, and seems truly repentant. I have no issue with him. It is the parents actions where I think there is room for outcry. If they were also repentant, or if they had handled everything above board, then Mr. Friels response would be warranted. But when there is good reason to believe wrongdoing, then it falls flat and undermines testimony. In my opinion, that is where the real issue lies. And yes, I do not believe that it was wise for them to embrace fame and being on T.V. knowing this was in their family history. Anyone alive in the last 30 years knows that skeletons of famous people have a way of coming to light. It was not fair to the rest of the kids or Josh’s kids to put the family in a national spot light where now it is the world’s business. It was probably also unwise for Josh to be on that board. At the very least, it shows a lack of wisdom and discernment, and the result has been to undermine their testimony.

      I also was confused that people so readily claimed them as brothers. When we are questioning professing believers on not taking the Genesis account literally (which I agree, that is problematic), it seems like a double standard to accept people who have added to the word with their lifestyle choices. I read an article a few years ago where they were explaining why they had so many children. It was something to the effect that they realized practicing birth control was a sin against God and his commands. I don’t quite know how to articulate what I am thinking, but how is that any different than some of the other things that bring professing believers into question in our minds?
      ~Jennifer

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    3. (I hit a character limit. This'll be posted in parts)

      I don't think any respected theologian (which I'll use to include gentlemen like Todd Friel, as a broader category than 'pastors/elders') who I've heard speak on this has been uncritically defending Josh and his family as a falsely accused brother. I believe there's a key, and very subtle, distinction between treating someone as a brother based on their profession and your discernment of the evidence in support of it, versus claiming to know for certain what the condition of their soul is. Mr. Friel's article is not falsified by the hypothetical possibility that Josh is still unregenerate. It leaves that option open. All of Christian affirmation, I think, is an experience in conditional thinking. We love unconditionally, but we *affirm* based on the evidence that's presented. I know, many people have defended them seemingly blindly, and that makes me cringe, too. And then on the other side you have people who, perhaps out of genuine desire not to whitewash sin, are being unforgiving and unmerciful.

      The key: we should not confuse forgiving or covering someone's sin, or even accepting someone as a brother outwardly, with whitewashing their nature as a sinner or past as a sinner. The lack of whitewashing is precisely what makes forgiveness possible. If there were nothing to hold against someone, then there would be nothing to forgive. I will say, with Biblical precedent, that forgiveness is by nature unfair. It is an act of grace that treats someone OTHER than how they DESERVE to be treated for what they've done. That's the scandalous nature of the Gospel, and I don't doubt you know it, so please don't be offended as if I'm treating you as unconverted--I'm simply hoping to remind you of it (and then there are the people in the audience who read the posts as well as the comments to be concerned about).

      So for me, I have a calm ("quiet") conscience over this because I don't have to overtly *claim* them as brothers in order to treat their profession of faith as genuine, or moreover to forgive them for sin. And all that literally means is that I'm not concerned with thinking about how to make them pay, as if justice has not been done and it is my job to ensure that justice gets done. I believe Todd's motivation for his post is primarily the Gospel -- he's not defending Josh, he's defending Christ: it is His name which is being tarnished, let us not fail to be aware of the true spiritual nature of the battle here. It is not about one man, or one family, it is about what this says about Christ. When the story first broke, I saw CNN (at the YMCA wall-tv's) wrap up a searing commentary on it with the insinuation that Josh's actions were the typical and expected actions of someone who is sexually repressed by prudish Christian morals and fundamentalist Christian parents. In other words, the bigger story for them is that Josh's scandal is ammunition to prove, as if by case study, that Christian homeschooling, Christian schooling, Christian parenting and anything else Christian that is educating or training children, is bad for children and makes little child molesters out of everyone.

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    4. Others have insinuated that molestation is "learned," attempting thereby to smear Jim-Bob and thereby accuse their whole parenting approach of being the *root cause* of molestation and other sexual deviancy.

      Todd is one of the only public commentors who directly addresses the root argument and undermines the logic of it. Another popular article by Matt Walsh (RC blogger on Glenn Beck's site The Blaze) gives a political angle, and uses a "what would you do" series of questions and current events references to mount a response that undermines the attacks as being hypocritical. This is helpful but ultimately insufficient. "Liberals" or "anti-Christian" people making these attacks ultimately won't care if they're hypocrites or not. It sure can't hurt to try to challenge them with "why aren't you outraged at Lena Dunham's publicly unrepentant molestation of her sister" questions, but clever questioning like that is not promised to have "the power of God unto salvation" -- what does? According to Romans 1:16 it is the Gospel.

      In that sense, then, all other responses fall short, and Todd's is the only one I've seen that makes it clear that the issue is about the Gospel and the problem here is not that Josh did something bad, or that his parents did something bad/ill-advised, or that people are being unfair to them -- the big issue is that because of the NEGLIGENCE of the visible Church in America, the Culture does not understand the Gospel. They don't understand that Christians are sinners. They don't understand that the Gospel is for evil people, not good people. They don't comprehend forgiveness. And this is a tragedy.

      So I don't see Todd as defending Josh, I see him as defending the glory of God, and asserting the Gospel. Ultimately, that's all that matters, and the more Christians (professing ones and saints alike) get caught up in being suspicious about why someone acted a certain way, many years ago, where we don't have all the details, and spend more time criticizing their choices than we do in preaching the Gospel, the more this opportunity slips by and because of our negligence, self-interest, and obsession with gossip, fewer people will hear the words of life. That is the tragedy. Not that the Duggar name has been attacked. Not that the Duggars may or may not have done something wrong that we still don't know about. But the tragedy is that when people see a professing Christian accused of sin, they are not told the remedy for sin.

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    5. I understand the concern. I don't know why they allegedly waited a very long time to speak with law enforcement. The "what would you do" questions are ultimately irrelevant because sympathy doesn't make an action right or wrong. But here's the deal: I'm actively choosing to let it go, because I have NO WAY of knowing that they actually DID do something wrong, and I'm a big believer in giving people the benefit of the doubt. Why? It's the Biblical model for us. If I suggested to someone else that there's something shady in their behavior, then I would be committing gossip and slander. I think the big tragedy is one of omission, here -- that unbelievers won't see Christians acting any different from how they themselves are acting in response to the Duggars. We make much of the sin of Josh, and the supposed sins of his parents, and even the sins of the police officer--as if that had ANY relevance to what Josh did!--but we ignore or fail to see the sins of the millions of professing believers who are continually sinning in gossiping, slandering, accusing, and being unforgiving, unmerciful, etc, as the list in Romans 1 advises us to be characteristic of those who do not know God.

      That Christians (saved or false believers) would look exactly like the world is the bigger sadness. The visible Church is hurting, or has even lost or abdicated, its witness.

      May it not be so.

      None of the criticisms in this post were directed at you; I spoke with you as someone on the same side, and I hope I've been able to benefit you with the perspective.

      Ultimately, wondering about what they did wrong, and whether they sincerely repented, won't do anything to help anyone. What will, is the Gospel. So the choice to forgive and accept a repentance as genuine, to cover sins and reconcile a person to the Church is perhaps decided most of all on the basis of what will exalt the Gospel. The fact that I stress less about everything that's wrong, by giving it to God and as for me just letting it go, is simply a convenient aid in making the decision that much easier.

      Hope this helps and didn't come off as an annoying wall of text that no one wants to read :P :)

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    6. Adam, thank you so much for your thoughtful and wise reply. It gave me a new way of viewing the situation. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said this:

      "I know, many people have defended them seemingly blindly, and that makes me cringe, too. And then on the other side you have people who, perhaps out of genuine desire not to whitewash sin, are being unforgiving and unmerciful"

      In your remarks about how unbelievers aim is to undermine Christian parenting, schooling, etc as being behind the result of things like Josh's sin (which I firmly agree with you on that), it got me to thinking about all the talk right now of how kids raised in fundamentalist homes often leave the church because their rearing was so oppressive. I think its just that kids who are unregenerate will always rebel, but when their parents are born again believers, there is more of a contrast. Where as kids in unregenerate homes tend not to look a lot different than their parents. There isn't' much to rebel from. Rabbit trail....sorry but I think its a good point, as this topic of the mass exodus of Millennials is a hot topic right now.

      Thanks again, Adam.

      Jennifer

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    7. I'd like to also thank you, Jennifer, for your gentle reply. Maybe I "did something right this time" with how I talked about a sensitive subject, but I think it's more likely that many people [often professing believers or the obviously unregenerate, so go figure] simply use aggression and dishonestly accuse others of being hurtful/attacking/self-righteous etc in an attempt to control the conversation and prevent anyone from saying what they don't want to hear, and that there are very few who are genuinely meek in their approach to discourse and don't approach hot-button subjects with the intent to interpret them in the most illogical or offensive way possible.

      So I'd like to thank you for your meekness in your reply. It was a breath of fresh air, especially since my past experience has been a painful confirmation of Proverbs 10:19 and Proverbs 17:27. I'm glad to have been of use. :)

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    8. I still stand by everything I said about the Duggars and the way they handeled the abuse. But you did give me a different way of seeing Tood Friels response: defending the gospel, not necessarily defending the Duggars.
      Jennifer

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