Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.
I Thes 4:1
In Paul's letter here to the Thessalonians I think he is referring to "the walk" of a christian. The process of allowing the Holy Spirit to change us to holiness. Not our talk but our walk. The process.
He goes on to encourage
1. sexual purity (vs. 3-)
2. loving relationships with our brothers [and sisters] (vs 9 -)
3. a way of daily life that wins the respect of outsiders (vs 11 - )
All signs that the Holy Spirit is in us. Not that we're perfect in these areas - but that there is change in these areas and we do get "better".
When I looked up more information on vs. 11 - 12 and this way of living that encourages positive relationships with those 'outside' the Body... I found some really interesting descriptions of what these verses are really saying.
...to lead a quiet life... The Word is encouraging us to live a quiet life - which says to me - separate from the desire to be in the spotlight. Not having a desire to make a great stir. Not to be so extremely busy that we create attention....but to live quietly. To have time for stillness. To strive to do small things with great love. To embrace the small opportunities we have to love, give, share everyday - not thinking anything is too little or below us... to follow our Savior's ultimate example of serving those around Him even in the daily dirty task of washing the feet of others full of dirt & debris.
...to mind your own business.... doesn't read to me the "mind your own business" we get from a snappy 12 year old... it speaks to me that we are to take care of what we have. Whatever role you are in, do it to your best. When reading a commentary on this it says the verse implies that we can't neglect our daily duties. In the time after Jesus' resurrection... some were so enthusiastic of the second coming which they thought would be soon that they neglected their work and became in debt to others. A great lesson for us to take care of our business, to not get into debt and to be great stewards of what we have. Time, talents, money.
God isn't only in the future. God is now. Jesus is coming back yes --- but Jesus is already with us. In us. We don't have to wait for Him! He is with us in our daily tasks and He is an expert in every thing we do. We're not supposed to wait for Jesus to come to start living with Him.... We're not supposed to leave Him in our churches on Sunday thinking 'that stuff' is His area of expertise. We are supposed to make Him a part of our every day! His expertise is EVERYTHING. We should include Him in thought during our activities in the day! He loves to be with the ones He love and so should we! :)
So in summary --- allowing the Holy Spirit to 'sanctify' us is pleasing to God. To become more like Jesus not by our own doing but through the Spirit. We just have to allow it to happen - to be "sanctified" - dedicated and set apart for God's purpose. Not for God's purpose SOME day... for God's purpose for our life TODAY!!! Not for God's purpose always in ways that are blaringly obvious to the world or great missions around the world --- but being set aside Holy allowing the process to occur daily wherever we are in whatever role! There's not a goal that we'll be pleasing to God when we become _____. It's the journey - not the destination. We can live a life pleasing to God not to be a goal for only when we grow up - but right now. Allowing the process to happen DAILY is pleasing to Him.
How do we allow the Holy Spirit to do this anyway? By spending time with Him daily. By studying God's word daily and letting Him plant these seeds into us.
So here was my first glimpse into what a life that is pleasing to God looks like. A life that embraces the process of santification in our daily lives.... being thankful for the process understanding that we don't have to wait for Him. He's here. He's watching. He wants to be involved. He wants to use you right NOW. Allowing the sanctification to happen so that one could become sexually pure, a good steward of what one has been given, be in loving relationships in the Body and lead a quiet, hard-working daily life that gains the respect of 'outsiders'.
One that embraces the process out of thankfulness and love for Him. Allowing Him to do the planting and growing... then recognizing Him when fruits grow. Knowing when we are good stewards in our "small", "little" tasks He will give us greater things to be great stewards of! The journey starts in our daily tasks & daily life right where we are, now.