“...that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life
in all godliness and honestly.” I Tim 2:2
I don’t know about you, but I genuinely hate turmoil and tension. I don’t mind hard work, but I like to live peacefully and productively. Sometimes that is hard to accomplish if the outside world is churning and interfering. The “quiet” life Paul is exhorting us to here in First Timothy is one of inner tranquillity that can be seen in how we live our lives.
Life may not be quiet or peaceful, but we can be. Others may not be godly and honest, but we can be. And as Prov. 14:14 says, “A good man is satisfied from himself.” Or, satisfied he has done right and is right. Quietness of life and heart comes from the knowledge that you have done rightly.
Paul’s admonition comes with instruction to pray for government and leaders so that their decisions will make it possible for life to be peaceful. That seems to be in small quantity today with wars, lagging morals and financial uncertainty. But, nevertheless, we should pray for our leadership. However, inner tranquillity can be ours regardless of the outer circumstances. As we tend our flock and work at our own business we can end each day at peace satisfied that we have given each day our best and then give the rest to the Lord.
Are you living rightly? Honestly? Godly? Do you remember your government in prayer?
“...that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” II Thess 3:12
This definition denotes “keeping one’s seat”. Staying in your place, taking care of your own business without disturbance to others.
Eccles 4:6 “Better is an handful with quietness, than both hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.”
How troubled we can become as we try to run the rat race. We work so hard to hold on to what we have and to gain what we think we need that there is no quietness in our hearts or in our homes. This verse advocates just the opposite. Be content. Stop striving. Settle back and do life at a different pace.
I read a book called, Sabbath, by Wayne Muller that put it this way, “…men and women, having worked hard and long in field and garden and factory and kitchen to obtain food, clothing, and shelter, would realize they had just about all they really needed. They would realize that they could now rest together, happy and satisfied, with their good and peaceful lives.” What a wonderful thing! I remember a life like this with my great-grandparents. At the end of the day they would rest satisfied that they had done their work and were rewarded with a good meal and a comfortable home.
However, Muller goes on to explain that the economists at the turn of the century did not like this. Satisfied and peaceful people do not produce economic expansion. So, investors, marketing experts, advertisers and business leaders fuelled the drive for increased consumption. They gave birth to the advertising industry which motivated people to spend money on things they did not need and encouraged them to fulfil their desires without regulation or limitation saying that everyone will be benefited by increased output and everyone will get more and more of what they want. Thus, the new gospel of consumption and acquisition was born. (paraphrase)
I think we have been duped! A happy life, a quiet life, does not come by consumption! Have you been fooled by the world of advertising? Have you ever thought about doing with less in life? Less of the world’s goods? Less of the perceived necessities of life? Take stock! What really makes your life better?
But whoso harkeneth unto me shall be quiet from fear of evil.”
Here the word “quiet” means to be at ease and peaceful. Our peace and quietness are directly related to our obedience and faith in God and his Word as we harken unto Him. Budziszewski wrote in his book, How to Stay Christian in College, “…we were designed for harmony with Him (God). Because our minds no longer obey Him, our desires and emotions no longer obey our minds.” And this creates the fear of evil, or disquietness in our lives.
The writer of Proverbs had just warned his son of the pitfalls and dangers of living a riotous life. A life out of control, unsettled and volatile, will not result in peace and safety. So, too, if we live our life without control and without self-discipline, we will not experience peace and safety. We will always be on the edge peering over to anticipated doom; how much better to settle back and enjoy the ride resting in the promises of God’s Word?
The Bible is full of positive examples. King David was able to endure the hardships of life because his heart was fixed and settled upon the Lord. Though the world around him rocked and reeled, David encouraged himself in the Lord and knew a quality of peace and quietness that astounded those around him. Jesus, too, knew that same quietness as the boat on Galilee approached certain doom. He slept and enjoyed the ride!
We are called to peace both in lifestyle and spirit. It is a beautiful thing to see a life so lived. It is a joy to the one so settled and a source of strength and encouragement to those around them who struggle.
How quiet is your spirit? How secure are you from the fear of evil? Are you able to “keep your seat” when the boat of life rocks? Are you listening and obeying the Lord?
“...the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,
which is in the sight of God is of great price.” I Peter 3:4
This verse always captures my imagination. As you read on in I Peter 3, the Bible refers to Sarah as our example. Sarah, who used and abused Hagar? Sarah, who laughed at God’s plan? Meek and quiet? So the definition is not mousy and without a voice!
Further exploration reveals the core meaning of meek as: not forward in spirit, a soothing disposition. And quiet to mean: undisturbed, peaceful, “tranquillity arising from within; causing no disturbance to others”. (Vine)
The picture then is one of strength of character. Both words can be used to describe our Lord Jesus. Tranquillity inwardly, resulting in a quiet, gentle spirit, and tranquillity outwardly resulting in receptiveness and control.
One writer defined meekness as the opposite of anger and quietness as the opposite of fearfulness. This definition might be easier to apply to Sarah. Despite her unusual circumstances she did not exhibit anger or fearfulness. She was confident and at peace in her heart. This had to come from a deep faith and belief in the providence of God in her life. She counted Him faithful!
So many people live from a core of anger or fear. It is good to take time and ask ourselves if we are one of those people. If anger is your core you will find yourself easily provoked, impatient, and resentful of others. If fear is your core, you will find yourself doubting your decisions, worrying about the future, and afraid of or resistant to change. Neither of these core attitudes will lead to a quiet life.
How quiet is your spirit? How meek is your disposition? Do you react in anger and fear to life situations? Which ornament -quietness or noise - is around your person?
“Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his other: my soul is even as a weaned child.” Psalm 131:2
To better understand this phrase, “quieted myself”, we would be best to consider the first verse of Psalm 131. “…my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” The Psalmist is speaking of his behaviour. He is a gentleman. He is a humble servant of the Lord who knows his place. Following on, Barnes says that the word “behaved” means to be level or even. The word, “quieted”, means exactly that - to be still, silent, to cease, stand still or rest, to tarry or wait.
Dake says, “There is no pride in my heart and no lofty look in my eyes. I do not desire what belongs to others or look down with contempt on those below me. I have not sought to meddle in high matters above me, or associate with those of higher rank. I have sought only to be humble, simple, and child-like as is befitting my station in life. I have not complained when chastened by others over me, or when driven away from home and comforts. I recognize my place under others as a subject of training and discipline should I get out of line. As a weaned child no longer cries, frets, and longs to be nursed, but is content because it is with its mother, so my soul is weaned from discontentment and is waiting and hoping in God.”
I don’t think there are many other things more annoying than a screaming child in the store. He wants something he isn’t getting and everyone must hear about it. It is so embarrassing for the mother and upsetting for everyone around. So it is with a Christian who has not learned how to behave himself and quiet himself in disappointment or difficulty. Learning our place with humility, appropriate behaviour, and how to quiet ourselves is a great skill and a measure of our godliness and maturity.
Do you throw temper-tantrums when things don’t go your way? Are you a gentle person or a brawler? A humble servant or a demanding child? Are you quietly content or frustrated as you struggle to get your way? Can you quiet yourself or do you have to be chastened and reminded of your place?