Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, by Witness Lee

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In 4:11 and 12 Paul speaks concerning a becoming walk: “And to be ambitious to be quiet, and to attend to your own affairs, and to work with your hands, even as we charged you; that you may walk becomingly toward those outside, and you may have need of nothing.” In verse 11 Paul gives us a good word: “Be ambitious to be quiet.” It is extremely difficult for a talkative person to be quiet. If such a person can be quiet for half an hour, that would be a victory.

The church life is damaged the most by fornication, then by jealousy, and after that by busybodies. A busybody wants to be everybody when actually he is nobody. Therefore, Paul charges the busybodies to be ambitious to be quiet. This means that they should have the ambition of calming themselves down. Certainly I would encourage the saints to have more fellowship. But those who are busybodies should be encouraged to be somewhat less active and to be more quiet. They should not seek to be the church information desk or be interested in knowing about others’ affairs. Instead, as Paul says, they should attend to their own affairs. Perhaps they should spend more time cleaning house or arranging their things. They should avoid the kind of busyness that damages the church life.

Those who are too interested in others’ affairs should be ambitious to be quiet and attend to their own affairs. But those who do not care for others and who spend too much time on their own affairs should be encouraged to spend more time caring for others in a proper way. In this matter, because we were born with different dispositions, we all need to be balanced.

In verse 12 Paul charges us to walk becomingly. We should not walk in a way that is strange or peculiar. In the eyes of others, our walk should be very becoming.

Today young people like to be peculiar. Some think that the more peculiar they are, the better it is. By being peculiar they attract the attention of others. We, however, should conduct ourselves in a way that is normal, becoming, and ordinary. However, in so doing we are not following any code or regulations. I believe that if we desire to love the Lord, to live Him, to walk according to His heart, deep within we shall sense something requiring us to be normal and becoming in all we do. In the way we drive, in the way we wear our hair, in the clothes we wear, and in all other things, we shall want to be becoming.

Anything that attracts the attention of others in a peculiar way is not becoming. We need to behave and walk becomingly. In particular, we must walk becomingly toward those outside, toward the outsiders.


The more we read 1 Thessalonians and consider its contents, the more we realize that this Epistle was written to new believers. First Thessalonians is absolutely different from Ephesians. The book of Ephesians contains many profound terms: the mystery of Christ, the Body of Christ, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. By contrast, 1 Thessalonians does not use profound terms. Instead, there are a number of simple warnings. For example, we are told that it is God’s will for us to be sanctified. This is an elementary way of speaking. Another example concerns Paul’s exhortation to brotherly love. He tells us that we have been taught of God to love one another, and then he encourages us to abound in this love. Furthermore, Paul exhorts us to be ambitious to be quiet, not to be busybodies, to work with our hands, and to attend to our own affairs. Such words are elementary; however, they are very practical, and we need them.

Why in his exhortation in chapter four does Paul mention only three things? Why does he speak only of sanctification versus fornication, of brotherly love, and of a becoming walk? The answer to these questions is that if we take care of sanctification, brotherly love, and walking becomingly, we shall be perfect. Therefore, we all need to take care of our sanctification, of our love for others, and of having a proper and becoming walk.

First Thessalonians certainly is a book for new believers. In this Epistle Paul takes care of the beginners in a very practical way. This does not mean, however, that new believers do not need books such as Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews. They certainly have a need for these books. But because they are young, they first need something simple and practical. This is the reason Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians in the way he did. He knew that the believers had been in the Lord less than a year, and therefore he wrote them in a very practical way. May we all follow Paul’s example and adopt his way to work with young saints and new believers.

(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)