Being nosey is a colloquial phrase not found in the Bible. When we say that a person is nosey (or nosy), it generally means he is being overly inquisitive. A nosey person interferes in business that doesn’t concern him, offers unwanted opinions, or asks too personal questions. Paul mentions widows who could be labeled as “nosey”—those who “get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to” (1 Timothy 5:13). A “busybody” who intrudes into everybody else’s lives and gets involved in what does not concern her is “nosey,” and the Bible says not to be like that.
Of course, it is not only widows who can have a habit of being nosey. People can be found being nosey in all kinds of situations—offices, churches, families, and social media all contain nosey people. The motive for being nosey could be boredom, dissatisfaction with one’s own life, or a desire to influence others. Paul’s solution for the busybodies in Timothy’s church is the same solution for nosey people today: find something profitable to do (1 Timothy 5:14).
Being nosey may seem harmless enough, but it is interesting that the Bible associates idleness with evil. Paul tells the women in Timothy’s church to be busy with their own families and so “give the enemy no opportunity for slander” (1 Timothy 5:14). The writer of Proverbs says, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28), and Paul equates slander and gossip with foolishness, malice, and even murder (Romans 1:29–32), sins that lead to spiritual death.
People can ask personal questions in an attempt to offer sincere counsel or help—this is not being nosey. A nosey person is trying to ferret out personal details they can then share with others for the sake of entertainment. It is important not to do be nosey or to be friends with someone who gossips, because “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33) and it is easy to be hurt by someone who is only interested in being nosey. Information should be given and received on a need-to-know basis.