So then, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus to keep living the way you already are and even do better in how you live and please God—just as you learned from us.2 You know the instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 God’s will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality 4 and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way. 5 Don’t be controlled by your sexual urges like the Gentiles who don’t know God. 6 No one should mistreat or take advantage of their brother or sister in this issue. The Lord punishes people for all these things, as we told you before and sternly warned you. 7 God didn’t call us to be immoral but to be dedicated to him. 8 Therefore, whoever rejects these instructions isn’t rejecting a human authority. They are rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 9 You don’t need us to write about loving your brothers and sisters because God has already taught you to love each other. 10 In fact, you are doing loving deeds for all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. Now we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do so even more. 11 Aim to live quietly, mind your own business, and earn your own living, just as I told you. 12 That way you’ll behave appropriately toward outsiders, and you won’t be in need. 13 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about people who have died so that you won’t mourn like others who don’t have any hope. 14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose, so we also believe that God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus. 15 What we are saying is a message from the Lord: we who are alive and still around at the Lord’s coming definitely won’t go ahead of those who have died. 16 This is because the Lord himself will come down from heaven with the signal of a shout by the head angel and a blast on God’s trumpet. First, those who are dead in Christ will rise.17 Then, we who are living and still around will be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air. That way we will always be with the Lord. 18 So encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-18, CEB)
Here we see Paul’s words reflect Jesus’ message in Matthew 6. Faith shouldn’t be a boisterous affair where one is outwardly rewarded for proclaiming loudly the label of Christianity. A common strategy for authors of fiction whether writing books or screenplays is the maxim, “Show, don’t tell.”
Often the things we are shown, not told, leave a greater impact on us as a reader/viewer than those delivered to us in an exposition dump. Likewise, nothing leaves a greater impression of your faith on others than the actions you take. Small services rendered humbly shine much brighter than large actions rendered with overwrought pomp.
As Paul carries on in verse 13 with his reassurance about the place of those who have died we can be reminded that those who are eager to “tell” have received their reward in the telling. But we are assured that the reward for the reward for those of us (and our loved ones who have passed) that “show” through humble service have nothing to fear and will reap greater rewards.
As a personal extension, I often find that things I do for others that go unseen still make me feel better than those done which are more visible. I think this goes hand-in-hand with being in a good mental health place of loving one’s self without the need for others to validate those feelings. When you’re able to be happy with yourself you’ll find personal joy in the small, unseen deeds you do for others. When you can love yourself it’s much easier to find yourself surrounded with others who love you. And perhaps more importantly, it can often assuage a tendency to seek the approval from those whose approval holds little value and can often lead us, via peer pressure, to do things that are not a reflection of who we truly want to be.