Mind Your Own Business
But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you . . . 1 Thessalonians 4:10-11
I’ve known more than a few people over the years who would qualify as busybodies. I’m sure you know them too. Overly interested in everyone else’s lives, they inject themselves into everyone’s affairs. Blind to their own flaws, they know exactly what’s wrong with others and they know exactly how to fix them. There’s nothing that’s not their business and there’s nothing they won’t gossip about. All too often, these busybodies are Christians who truly believe they’re carrying God’s truth. When they read the Bible or hear a sermon, they know fifteen other people who need to hear the message and they’re not afraid to tell them so.
So, naturally, these are the people I think about when I read today’s passage. In it, Paul commanded the Thessalonians to live quietly, mind their own affairs, and do their jobs. In contemplating Paul’s words, I automatically think of those busybodies who most need to hear this message. In thinking of them, and in judging them, I’m doing the very thing Paul said not to do and I’m guilty of the same sin for which I’m condemning them. Suddenly, I’m the busybody, injecting myself into someone else’s life.
This is akin to the child in Sunday school who keeps his eyes open during the prayer, so he can tell on the other kids who have their eyes open. Unfortunately, this is terribly easy to do, particularly as Christians. I believe I know the truth and frankly, I’m far better at identifying evil behavior in others than I am at identifying it in myself. Besides, if I can rail against your sin, I’m distracted from my own, while making myself feel holy. If I’m pointing out sin – even while sinning myself – at least I’m doing something good, right?
This is the height of Christian hypocrisy – telling others how to live while failing so miserably at following Christ ourselves. It’s absurd, yet we’re so good at it. We’re fantastic at pointing out corrupt behaviors in others while living in secret addiction to our own pornography, anger, drugs, greed, inappropriate relationships, or pride.
We would all do well to listen to Paul’s words. We should all aspire to live quietly, allowing our actions speak for us. We should all mind our own affairs, working first on the failures in our own lives. We should do our jobs and do them well. We’re not responsible for how others live. We’re simply responsible for our own behavior before God.