What is a “busybody”? Here is the definition from Strong’s Concordance:
Definition: one who meddles in things alien to his calling or in matters belonging to others; factious.
Essentially, if I am a busybody, I am inserting myself into other people’s lives and problems in a way that is unproductive and even harmful. My involvement does not bring healing, but rather, division. I am involving myself in the affairs of other people that are not my business. I am, undoubtedly, acting in the flesh not in the power of the Spirit of God. And generally, if I am a busybody, my advice is unwanted, unsolicited, and unappreciated.
As women, we love to help others. I think we are wired that way! Helping people is a good thing – when we are genuinely helping.
But there are limits to what is helpful. I can easily cross the line. Sometimes, I might think I know best for others, but I might really just be pushing my own personal opinions, agenda, and human wisdom. I can so easily deceive myself that my wisdom = God’s wisdom. People don’t need my opinions and wisdom. They need God.
When I try to help people in my own human strength, I speak death to the situation instead of God’s Life. That is not a blessing to anyone. Also, when I share God’s wisdom, if people are not receptive, they can’t and won’t hear me. I can’t make people hear or open their eyes. I have to accept my limits and remember I am not sovereign and I am not the Holy Spirit, God is.
What’s Wrong with Trying to Help People Who Don’t Want My Help?
If people come to me for advice or are open to what I share AND my heart is right with God, awesome! But most people won’t take advice that is unsolicited, even if it is really good advice. If people want help, they will generally ask for help. If I just keep blurting out lots of advice when others don’t want it, they will feel I am lecturing to them or preaching at them. They will resent me. People may feel I am looking down on them. I need to be sensitive to the way people respond to the wisdom I share with them.
The Bible has some wisdom to share with us about giving advice and sharing God’s truth:
- The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Prov. 12:15
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words (about the gospel), leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Matt. 10:14
- On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. Matt. 12:36
- Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. Luke 8:37
- The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:14
- Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph. 4:29
- And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Tim. 2:24-25
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. James 1:26
A few take-aways from scripture:
- It is a person’s choice to listen to wise advice or to reject it. I can’t force wisdom on anyone. My job is to share the truth in love, what others do with what I share is between them and God.
- Those who don’t know the Lord and are spiritually blind can’t see spiritual things yet no matter how much I explain them. This should not surprise or frustrate me. If they are ensnared by Satan, it will take the power of God’s Spirit to set them free.
- My response to opposition must be kindness, gentleness, and patience. If people oppose God’s wisdom that I share, they are opposing Him, not me. I can lay them before the Lord in prayer.
- When sharing the gospel or godly advice, if my words are not welcome, I don’t need to stay and argue, I can respectfully leave and ask God’s Spirit to work in the person’s heart.
- Jesus didn’t stay where people didn’t want His help, healing, and wisdom. He is a Gentleman, and He only stays and shares His miracles, truth, healing, and wisdom when He is invited and welcome.
- If I am not sure what God says or thinks about someone’s situation, it may be best for me to simply pray for them and not try to address something if I don’t really know for sure what scripture would say. Only God’s wisdom is needed, not my own thoughts. Perhaps I can also direct that person to resources and wise, experienced, counsel. I won’t have all of the answers myself for every situation.
- If I am helping someone else, I want to be very careful about sharing private information with anyone else in order to avoid gossip.
There can be some exceptions about helping someone who doesn’t want my help. When people are involved in very serious unrepentant sin, self-harm, active drug/alcohol addictions, there can be times when the most loving thing to do is to try to intervene even when the person doesn’t want help. This will usually mean I will be getting that person to someone who is experienced in helping people who are ensnared in these traps who can help them. Also, sometimes our children or employees don’t ask for our advice or counsel, but we need to give it respectfully anyway – when they are under our authority.
What Does God’s Word Say about Being a Busybody?
- Besides that, 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 Tim. 5:13
- And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 1 Thess. 4:11
- For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 2 Thess. 3:11
- But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 1 Pet. 4:15
- Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 2 Thess. 3:6
How Can I Avoid Being a Busybody?
When I am a busybody, I am a lot more concerned about the sins and issues of others (things for which I am not responsible) than about my own sins and the things for which I really am responsible. That is a big problem. First, I must be willing to allow the Lord to examine my own heart and deal with all of the sin in my own life before I could begin to see clearly to address “the speck in my brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1-5). Then I can have the power of God’s Spirit and His wisdom filling me. Then I can also have proper humility to approach others with godly love.
I don’t get to:
- Force my personal convictions on anyone.
- Make another grown adult’s decision for him/her.
- Gossip to others.
- Look down on others or condemn them.
- Ignore my own spiritual sins and growth and focus on other people’s errors.
- Minister to someone when my husband doesn’t approve. (Sometimes God uses my husband to close a door that He wants to close.)
- Minister to someone when God has not assigned me to that task.
- Minister to someone when my heart is not right with God.
- Insert myself, uninvited, into other people’s lives at work, in extended family, at church, in my neighborhood, etc…
- Avoid my personal God-given responsibilities in order to involve myself in other people’s business.
If I have been doing things like this, if I realize I have been overly involved in other people’s lives in hurtful ways, I can repent of anything I have done that offended God and yield myself to His Lordship.
If I am really helping people in a godly way, I would want to:
- See others experience the healing and freedom Jesus offers to them.
- Pray fervently for them for God’s will and for Him to open their eyes.
- See God’s greatest glory in their lives.
- Humbly remember that I have no goodness in me apart from Jesus.
- Remember that God’s wisdom is what is most urgently needed, not my wisdom or opinions.
- Respect a person’s decision if she doesn’t want my help and pray for God to reach them in another way.
- Be sure God is calling me to speak and that I know what He wants me to say so that I am obeying His prompting, not running ahead.
- Only talk to the Lord, and possibly to my husband, or a godly mentor about the situation.
- Watch my motives for sin and to repent as soon as I see any sinful thoughts in my own heart.
- Watch for me getting overly involved (enmeshed) or reacting in the flesh. I must act in the Spirit, not my own strength or wisdom.
- Look for burnout, frustration, resentment, bitterness, anxiety, or negativity on my side of the relationship – these are flags that I may be overstepping my bounds or not acting in the power of the Spirit.
- Not just be a sounding board for someone to “vent” to. Venting is toxic. If it becomes obvious that a friend really doesn’t want to change and grow in Christ, I may have to stop attempting to help until she is serious about asking God to change her own heart and mind.
- Encourage a Spirit of unity in the body of Christ – never division, resentment, rumors, gossip, hatred, or bitterness.
- Speak Life rather than death to others.
It is a most serious thing to give advice to someone about spiritual matters or relationship matters.
If I give unbiblical advice or my understanding of God’s Word or His will is not correct, I could mislead someone into sin or error. If my own heart is not right, I can repel someone from the Lord and from a godly course of action. We are each responsible for our own decisions and for our own sin. But how I never want to be responsible for setting a stumbling block in someone’s way.
If I am acting as “an authority” in that person’s life, like I am a mentor, supervisor, mother, or teacher, I have even greater accountability before the Lord. How humble I must be if God has given me a position of authority so that I do not misrepresent God in someone’s life. If something seems to be more than I can handle or I am not sure, I may need to refer people with really serious issues to experienced, godly counselors and authorities who can best help those in need.
How Can I Tell If I Am a Busybody?
www.gotquestions.org has a really helpful list of questions we can ask ourselves to determine if we have become busybodies.