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1 Thessalonians 4:11

"Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before."

A jeweler working in his shop.

Three instructions are given to the reader in 1 Thessalonians 4:11. First, Paul tells his reader to live a quiet life. Second, Paul tells them to mind their own business. And third, Paul tells the Thessalonians to work with their hands. I think we can safely assume that in these first two admonitions Paul is indirectly telling these people to refrain from gossiping and judging each other. But what is Paul's purpose for telling them to work with their hands?

In the 4th century, St. Jerome encouraged Christians to “engage in some occupation, so that the devil may always find you busy.” The popular saying, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop," is probably derived from St. Jerome's advice. If you are confused by this proverb, it simply means that when you are busy doing something productive it's difficult to have the time to engage in inappropriate behavior. As an example, when you were a bored teenager on a Friday night, what did you decide to do with your friends? I'm guessing you didn't sneak over to your neighbor's house to secretly wash their car.

Staying busy can certainly distract us from the important things in life. But on the other hand, being idle can lead to a great deal of trouble. For today's exercise think about how you are spending your free time. Are you using it productively? Are you taking the opportunity to help others or refresh yourself in a positive way? Or are you spending your time in the devil's workshop?

(New Living Translation; photo credit: Wix media)

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