Watch Your Own Bobber
I Thessalonians 4:10,11 But we urge you, brothers . . . to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs . . .
As painful as it is to admit, in my drug addiction, I became condescending towards those who struggled differently than me. If I could find cause to be critical of another, it made me feel better about myself. My preoccupation with the defects of those around me was a fantastic distraction from my own mess. In my focus on others, I could avoid painful self-examination.
Though we are severely self-centered regarding our own will, when it comes to destructive behaviors, we prefer to focus on anyone but self. Like a child during a Sunday school prayer, we keep our eyes open so we may police those who are keeping their eyes open.
Anyone can fall victim to the obsession with the defects of others, but Christians are particularly prone to this addiction. We carry a profound truth and thus, we see ourselves as bearers of that sacred truth. Avoiding the big, obvious sins, we pat ourselves on the back. I don’t drink, smoke or gamble, so, I’m kind of a big deal . . .
Then, we are able to condescend to those who struggle in ways we do not. Our obsession with the lives of others protects our ego from self-examination. If we can continually point out the defects in those around us, we never have to examine the subtler defects to which we are enslaved.
Paul said, in today’s passage, that I must mind my own affairs. It is my responsibility every day to deny my own defects and follow Christ. I must first maintain a right relationship to God. Doing so, will often mean that I deny the temptation to obsess with the flaws of others. I am responsible for my defects, not my neighbor’s. I may well encourage my neighbor to pursue God, but this does not justify an obsession with his affairs. I must always watch my own bobber.