A busybody is a person who meddles in the affairs of others. Sometimes this meddling is under the guise of “helping,” but usually the “help” is unwelcome and uninvited. Busybodies are often people who are dissatisfied with the level of drama in their own lives and gain satisfaction by becoming involved in the problems of other people. Gossip is usually a staple of every busybody, but it is usually camouflaged as a “prayer request” or given under the pretense of asking for advice.
The Bible has strong words for busybodies (2 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Timothy 5:13). First Peter 4:15 warns us, “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler.” It is noteworthy that Peter lists meddling as prohibited right along with murder and theft. Busybodies within the church often camouflage their nosey meddling as compassionate concern. The difference between meddling and concern, however, is whether or not the intrusion is beneficial or productive in the lives of others.
Some people have difficulty recognizing themselves as busybodies, so a few questions can aid in determining whether or not attempts to “help” are in fact meddling. A potential busybody should ask him/herself the following questions:
1. Is this any of my business? (1 Timothy 5:13)
2. Has God given me this assignment? (Ephesians 6:19)
3. Am I qualified to involve myself with this? (Romans 14:10)
4. Is my true motivation to bring help, or do I only want to feel needed? (1 Corinthians 13:1)
5. How much of my “discussion” about the situation could be classified as gossip? (Proverbs 11:13)
6. What was the result the last time I intruded in a situation that was not my problem? (Proverbs 26: 11)
7. Has my opinion been sought by those involved? (Proverbs 27:2)
8. Am I motivated by love for this person or by a sense of my own importance? (1 Corinthians 16:14)
9. Am I basing my “help” on Scripture or on my own opinion? (Proverbs 16:25)
10. Do I respond with anger when my “advice” is not accepted or found to be flawed? (Proverbs 17:10)
The answers to these questions can help us determine whether our involvement in the affairs of others is, in fact, meddling. If we recognize that our real motivation is the enjoyment of being in the center of other people’s issues, it may be time to let God deal with that insecurity. It is important to remember that busybodies rarely think of themselves as insecure. If we find ourselves often embroiled in the secrets of others, it may be wise to seek the oversight of a trusted friend or pastor. An objective person can help clarify our motivations and keep us from becoming a busybody.