“Some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people’s business.” 2 Thess 3:11 NLT
So this is the third day that we’ve gotten in trouble for being in other people’s business… First it was slander – talking about other people with the intention of hurting them. Then it was gossip – just talking about other people’s business in a rather mindless way.
And today it is meddling – asking too many questions about other people’s personal business. Meddling is different because usually you are talking to the person directly, not behind their back. Sometimes meddlers have an agenda, but I’m guessing that most of them are just curious. They just want to know – about your age, your weight, your diet, your health condition, your finances, your work situation, if you plan to have children, how your marriage is going, and all kinds of other stuff.
Here’s our book’s advice – “If you are prone to natural curiosity, you must make a special effort to keep your inquisitiveness within the bounds of what is socially and spiritually appropriate.” We could add to that the category of culturally appropriate because taboo subjects and comfort levels vary across cultures as well.
“He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears.” Prov 26:17 You may get bitten!
Of course, even if it’s a close friend, someone with whom you have a more intimate relationship, you still have to be gentle with your questions and words. Never assume that you have earned the right to stick your nose in someone else’s business.
I think some people just miss the social cues, they don’t know that they’ve wandered into a sensitive area. Feel free to laugh and say, “I don’t feel like talking about that right now.”
I can only think of two exceptions. First, children living in your house – their business is your business and occasional meddling from a wiser adult may be in their best interest. You do still have to parent.
The second exception is in an established accountability relationship, where you have explicitly given a friend permission to meddle, to ask you hard questions about sensitive areas of your life. Sometimes we’re having a hard time with something and we NEED someone to keep track of us – that’s the unique joy and growth opportunity found in an accountability relationship.
Today – Keep a secret! Discourage gossip and meddling.
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue