By Donnie V. Rader
One of the commands of God that we sometimes act as if we haven’t read is the one that tells us to mind our own business. The text says, “that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (1 Thess. 4:11, emphasis mine DVR, NKJV).
Yes, the Bible actually tells us to mind our own business! Thus, we need to consider some ways we sometimes violate this instruction and just how serious that is.
It Is a Sin
Remember that sin is a violation of the law of God (1 In. 3:4). Since the law of God tells us to mind our own business and not another’s (1 Thess. 4:11), then it would be a sin to behave contrary.
In the second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul stated that there were some in the church who were “busybodies” (2 Thess. 3:11). A busybody is one who is not busied in his own business, but over busied in that of others’ (Vines). If he did not cease his practice, he was to be disfellowshiped (2 Thess. 3:6-15). That tells how serious being a busybody (minding the business of other people) can be. God said such a one is “disorderly.”
In 1 Timothy 5:13 Paul rebukes those who are idle, wandering from house to house telling things that they should not. He calls them “gossips and busybodies.”
Peter wrote that we should not suffer as a “busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Pet. 4:15).
How We Are Sometimes Guilty
1. In our conversation. Quite often we find ourselves talking about other people, their money, the things they do, what they buy and what we think about all of that. It may be that the things we talk about are personal which should not be of any concern to us.
Some take it on themselves to meddle by thinking they must tell others exactly what they think about their clothes, their hair, their weight or how they handle their money or children.
We sometimes ask questions about things that are none of our business. We sometimes ask how much someone makes, how much they spend or about conversations that do not concern us.
2. In family relationships. It is very easy for parents to mind the business of their children who are married and have families of their own. Some parents treat their grown children as if they were still kids, telling them what to do. When parents feel that they have to make critical comments on their grown children’s money, looks, clothes and children they are minding business that is not theirs. Why is it that some parents feel that they need hold the reigns on their adult children and meddle in their affairs?
Some are failing to recognize that a new family has been established and God has established the husband as the head of that family (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31).
This sometimes is reversed. Children sometimes try to mind the business of their parents. Because of the close family ties we may feel free to meddle in the affairs of brothers, sisters, grandchildren, aunts and uncles.
3. Church-preacher relationships. Sometimes preachers feel that their role grants them the right to mind the business of some of the members of the church where they preach. He may try to tell them his opinion (not bound by the Bible) on how they ought to handle their affairs.
Sometimes members of the church try to mind the business of the preacher. A few will act as if they or the church owns the preacher. Preachers sometimes have some of their fellow-Christians to tell them how they should spend their spare time, who they should choose as friends and what his wife should do with her time. I once heard of a church that asked their preacher to bring a financial report of his personal expenses before the men in a business meeting. With tongue in cheek, he prepared one and commended them for the wonderful idea. He said he thought that every man ought to do the same so the men could watch for covetousness among the members. The men quickly decided that their first idea wasn’t necessary.
Be Careful of Extremes
As is true of any Bible principle, it is possible to go to one extreme or another. One extreme has been discussed above: minding another’s business. The other extreme is to think that no one should have a right to correct you or say anything critical. When a Christian becomes weak and lets sin hinder his service to God, other Christians are to try to restore him (Gal. 6:1). Efforts must be made to convert him from the error of his way (Jas. 5:19-20). However, that is not a violation of “mind your own business.”
Elders are to watch and rule over the souls of those who are members where they are serving (Heb. 13:7,17). They have the oversight of the flock of God (1 Pet. 5:2). That will involve talking to some of the Christians about how they live, train their children, treat their mates, etc. That again, is not a violation of “mind your own business.” However, a few may cry that it is none of their business.
Some Questions to Ask Yourself
Before we get too carried away asking questions, telling what we know or passing on our advice let us ask ourselves the following questions: (1) Is this really any of my business? (2) Have I been invited into this matter? (3) Will my action of asking or telling possibly do more harm than good? (4) Will others think that I am minding other people’s business?
Though our text (1 Thess. 4:11) is easy to violate, it is a text that we can obey. Let’s try!
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 4, p. 16-17
February 17, 1994