Upon the verified faithfulness of the Thessalonians, and the apparent fruit from serving God instead of idols, Paul reminds them of what a sanctified life looks like. Not because he was hearing a bad report, but most likely because he understands the temptation to default back to old habits.
The habits he addresses are as old as humanity’s struggle itself. The exile from Eden (Genesis 3) came with a new reality that work would be hard and so would childbearing. This evolved into most every pagan culture serving deities that promised success in business (Ba’al, Demeter) and fertility (Ashura, Artemis, Aphrodite). These worship practices were perverted and included a lot of shady practices and sexual corruption.
I think this helps frame the pairing of these two exhortations time and time again.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God… and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (4:3-5; 11-12)
This is an evidence of freedom; not sexually caught up, or financially bound. Jesus is making all things new and He started with us, giving us a New Life as New Creation. This was pivotal for the Greek Christians to understand, as it was 100% contrary to their culture.
How does this translate to your culture context? What measures do the people around you take to address the struggle with business and fertility? I think it’s important we think critically about this, so we can seek to find the way which Jesus leads us in freedom. What difference does this freedom make in your context?