A few weeks ago in church our pastor was preaching from 1 Peter. He was just reading along and sharing his message and he got to 1 Peter 5:15. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.”
It stopped me cold. Whoa! Being a meddler is right up there with a murderer and a thief?! That’s pretty tough.
So I decided to do some digging about meddlers (also known as busybodies) and see what else the Bible has to say about it. I definitely wanted to know if I was doing any of that meddling stuff myself and I sure don’t want to suffer like a murderer!
In the sermon, he said that a troublesome meddler is “one that is too involved in the affairs of others.” He also said that while it is not a crime to be a meddler, it is a sin. Ouch!
One thing I want to really make clear is that I am looking at myself here, not anyone else. It is SO easy when I read these verses to look at others who have meddled in my life and think, “Ooooh…..she’s in TROUBLE!”, then just go about my day as if I don’t have any sin hiding in the corners of my heart. But that really doesn’t help anyone. So I am choosing to look at my own life and leave other people to the Holy Spirit. I am sure there’s enough mess in me to deal with; I don’t need anyone else’s problems. Plus, that would be pretty ironic to be calling people out for meddling when it’s really not my business. It’s like those haters who scream at me online, “You are SO judgmental.” Um…. do you hear the irony?
So for this discussion let’s just stop to look inside ourselves and see what planks we have in our own eyes and leave other meddlers to their suffering, shall we?
How do we know if we are a meddler?
To make it easy, let’s call our target Susie. Poor Susie is obviously making some bad choices and she is SO impossible to deal with and frankly we just don’t like her. Maybe she’s a relative, maybe she is a troublesome neighbor, or maybe she is simply a person we thought was a friend and then changed our mind after we found out that she is so horrible. How can we know if we are meddling or really being helpful? I mean, Susie has simply got to change, right?
1. If I gossip. Yep, gossip is the number one way of meddling. If I find myself talking to our friend Mary about how crazy Susie is when don’t talk to Susie about it….I am gossiping and ultimately meddling. Either I am trying to be a part of helping Susie directly or I am a busybody. There is not much in between.
Mt 12:36 “I tell you, on this day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
2. If I don’t pray for her. Like it or not, we are called to want the best for Susie. If we spend more time thinking about how annoying Susie is than praying for her we are possibly meddlers.
Mt 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven.”
3. If I am dipping my nose into her affairs. There are some very clear areas of authority in Scripture and we will be wise to heed them. Each man has authority over his own home. It is easy to criticize others in their parenting, marriage, home-keeping skills, etc. We all will fail in many areas, but unless there is actual illegal activity going on (and even then the are appropriate channels for helping, none of which involve social media or gossip) we need to stay out of other people’s business. If we stuck our noses into every other family that does things differently than we do, we will leave nothing but a slew of broken lives behind us.
2 Cor 10:13 “But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God has assigned to us, to reach even you.”
If you really, really think you need to get involved in helping someone through their sin (and it needs to be sin and not just “I don’t agree with you”), PRAY a lot before you jump in! Then check with your spouse and see if they agree, then ask your pastor and see if he agrees. Then, if that wise counsel (not all of your friends but just those 2 advisors) actually agrees that you should get involved, as hard as it will be, you are called to talk TO Susie instead of going around her. Not talking directly to her is cowardly and never, ever actually helps anyone. Not even you.
4. If I think I’m better than her. If I think I am above anyone else, then I am in danger of all kinds of sin. God loves me, God loves you, He doesn’t place any of us over any other. If I think I am better than Susie, I am actually losing sight of how special she is to God and I can quickly slip into foolish and harmful behavior. It is vital to keep the perspective that no matter what anyone does or what we do, it does not raise or lower us in God’s eyes.
Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
5. If I can’t be corrected. Oh man, it is tough when someone corrects you. It can really sting. We like to be admired and thought of as flawless. But we all need a word of correction sometimes….ALL OF US! If you reject correction then you are likely to be a person who over-criticizes others. It’s simple psychology: I have to lower others in order to stay on my imagined pedestal.
Be willing to be corrected. It keeps us from getting a big head and thinking we’re all that and a bag of chips. If we don’t get defensive when someone corrects us then we are in a better position to know if we are being a meddler. I am so glad I have people in my life who tell me the truth or I would probably be the worst offender in all of history!
Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
6. Know God’s Word. It is easy to say, “Susie is so WRONG!” but did we look in the Bible to actually see if it says what she is doing is wrong? Child raising philosophies, school choices, birth choices, money, careers, so many areas where we like to think our way is the best. And maybe you do have great ideas and maybe you can do have ideas that Susie could benefit from. But is she WRONG? Does the Bible actually SAY that if she doesn’t breastfeed then she is doing it wrong? NO! Let’s let each other live peacefully and just try to be understanding unless it is a real, honest to goodness sin. If that is the case then it may be time to go to Susie in love and try to help her.
Your involvement should ALWAYS be for the purpose of helping Susie heal and draw closer to God. Otherwise I need to just mind my own beeswax and be thankful to have friends who put up with my junk and I should be willing to put up with theirs.
Lastly, I am asking myself these questions to keep myself in check when it comes to meddling:
- Am I really helping or just feeding my own ego?
- Did this friend ask for my help?
- Have I become part of the problem?
- Do I think I know better than my friend about her life?
- How much time have I spent praying for this situation?
- Am I seeing my own messes and trying to fix them, or do I only “fix” others?
- Am I being manipulative or dishonest in any way?
- Am I honoring God in this relationship?
- Do I ever sense the Holy Spirit telling me to stop?
- Would I be of more service if I stepped out of the situation and minded my own business?
I am asking God to show me any areas where I may be meddling and I will be praying for each of you who reads this. Let’s make a change in ourselves and allow God to use us to bless others, even Susie.