In his first letter to the Thessalonian church, the apostle Paul urges believers to “excel still more” in love “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life” (4:10-11). The Thessalonians’ peace was threatened by afflictions (3:3). Tribulation has a way of disturbing and upseting God’s children, which is why the Lord and His apostles have so much to say about not being anxious about anything, but instead, receiving God’s peace “that surpasses all understanding.” Undoubtedly, you understand your Father’s desire for you as His child to live in peace. But what you might not understand is how this connects to love, as Paul writes in this passage. But the correlation becomes obvious as you reflect on it. What is the focus when you are anxious? It is on others, how you might serve and show love to them? No, when you are upset you are focused on yourself, on anxieties that are weighing on you. Additionally there is the temptation to respond to others with impatience and anger when anxious. So peace is not only for your well-being, is it essential to your loving others.
Years ago there was there was a business executive who made a commitment to try to live like a Christian instead of just talking about it. This particular morning he was rushing to catch a commuter train. By the time he picked up his ticket he was running late for an important meeting at the office. He needed to make this train to get there on time. Just as he was about to board the train, he accidentally bumped into a little child who was carrying a jigsaw puzzle. The box went flying and the pieces scattered everywhere. Anxiety was high for both him and the child.
This man had a decision to make—just like you have decisions every day. So what did he do? By God’s grace he chose peace over anxiety and then with a sigh and a smile, he turned to help the boy pick up his puzzle as the train pulled out. As this was going on, the little boy watched him intently. When they finished picking up all the pieces, the little boy looked at the man with a kind of awe. He said hesitatingly, Mister, are you Jesus? And the man realized that this little boy saw the love of Jesus in his life.
By God’s grace, may this be true as well of your life—may you live in His peace so that you can live in His love, that our Father may be pleased, that you may experience His joy, that His people may be built up, and that the world may know that you are Christ’s disciple.