Are You a Busybody?
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“They learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.”—1 Timothy 5:131
A busybody is a person who meddles in the affairs of others. Sometimes this meddling is under the guise of “helping,” but usually the “help” is unwelcome and uninvited. Busybodies are often people who are dissatisfied with the level of drama in their own lives and gain satisfaction by becoming involved in the problems of other people. Gossip is usually a staple of every busybody, but it is usually camouflaged as a “prayer request” or given under the pretense of asking for advice.
The Bible has strong words for busybodies.2 First Peter 4:15 warns us, “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler.” Busybodies within the church often camouflage their nosey meddling as compassionate concern. The difference between meddling and concern, however, is whether or not the intrusion is beneficial or productive in the lives of others.
Some people have difficulty recognizing themselves as busybodies, so a few questions can aid in determining whether or not attempts to “help” are in fact meddling. A potential busybody should ask him/herself the following questions:
- Is this any of my business?3
- Has God given me this assignment?4
- Am I qualified to involve myself with this?5
- Is my true motivation to bring help, or do I only want to feel needed?6
- How much of my “discussion” about the situation could be classified as gossip?7
- What was the result the last time I intruded in a situation that was not my problem?8
- Has my opinion been sought by those involved?9
- Am I motivated by love for this person or by a sense of my own importance?10
- Am I basing my “help” on Scripture or on my own opinion?11
- Do I respond with anger when my “advice” is not accepted or is found to be flawed?12
The answers to these questions can help us determine whether our involvement in the affairs of others is, in fact, meddling. If we recognize that our real motivation is the enjoyment of being in the center of other people’s issues, it may be time to let God deal with that insecurity. It is important to remember that busybodies rarely think of themselves as insecure. If we find ourselves often embroiled in the secrets of others, it may be wise to seek the oversight of a trusted friend or pastor. An objective person can help clarify our motivations and keep us from becoming a busybody.—From gotquestions.org13
Warning to those who are busybodies
“For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.”—2 Thessalonians 3:1114
Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.”15
Peter said in 1 Peter 4:15, “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.”16
Paul says that some are idle and are busybodies, always worrying about other people, always wanting to know what others are doing and not taking care of their own business. Busy with everybody’s business but not their own.
There are some dangers in being a busybody.
1) You become so wrapped up in others’ lives that you neglect your own.
Paul talked about working for your own food and keeping your own affairs in order. If you’re busy working for your own food and busy taking care of your own household, you will have less time to be prying into others’ business.
2) You might become a gossiper, one who knows and tells everyone else’s business.
A busybody and a gossiper can be two different things. A gossiper may not be involved in anyone’s life, but talks about what they hear, see, or know concerning others. A busybody is one who is in there trying to fix or be a part of others’ business when they have no right to be. And they might be malicious or not. But there is a danger in becoming a gossiper if you become a meddler.
The person who is so wrapped up in the lives of others and is always trying to “butt in,” constantly interfering in the lives of others, is a busybody. The person who always comes over and wants to tell you how you should do things or not do things, the one who always wants to have their way in your life. The person who is not asked for advice but is always giving it. That’s a meddler.
Often this can happen with parents who have grown children. They can’t stop meddling. “What’s going on? Why is this happening?” It’s not bad to help when we are asked for help, but often no one asked. The meddler may feel that they know what’s best, but it’s not their business. They need to deal with their own affairs. Often the busybody doesn’t have their own life in order, but they want to know and be involved in the lives of others. Paul says be busy with your own business.—From Faithlife Sermons17
Watch your words
The book of Proverbs tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,”18 “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health,”19 and, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”20
For your own sake and everyone else’s, watch your words! The remedy begins with a change in the heart—our hearts—because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”21 The key begins with praying to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
So open your heart to God. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit. Then as you make a habit of reading and absorbing God’s Word, you’ll come into a deep, abiding relationship with Him, and that relationship will manifest itself in your words and actions. When His Word abides in you, you won’t meddle, gossip, or say unkind or bitter words. We can never control our tongue ourselves. “No man can tame the tongue,”22 but God can! “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”23
Trust God to change you! Believe that His Word will not fail. He can come in with His Spirit and cause kindness to flow through you because He possesses your tongue and your life.—Virginia Brandt Berg
Published on Anchor April 2019. Read by Jerry Paladino.
2 2 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Timothy 5:13.
3 1 Timothy 5:13.
4 Ephesians 6:19.
5 Romans 14:10.
6 1 Corinthians 13:1.
7 Proverbs 11:13.
8 Proverbs 26:11.
9 Proverbs 27:2.
10 1 Corinthians 16:14.
11 Proverbs 16:25.
12 Proverbs 17:10.
18 Proverbs 18:21.
19 Proverbs 12:18.
20 Proverbs 15:4.
21 Matthew 12:34.
22 James 3:8.
23 Matthew 19:26.
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