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Monday, June 8, 2015

Is It Your Business? Ten Ways to Know

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, Free Digital Photos

It happens all the time. One person tries to “help” other people. This person is always getting involved in issues he (or she) isn’t part of. Caring, he gets mixed up in the middle of something that really wasn’t his business in the first place.

I think we’ve all done this at one time or other. It’s not something I recommend and the Bible doesn’t, either. Consider these verses: For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12). But let none of you (believers) suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters (1 Peter 4:15).

Ah, you might say, there’s another Bible passage that says we’re supposed to help others with their problems: Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). The context is about restoring others in a spirit of meekness after they've sinned. In this same passage, we find the verses, But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden (Galatians 6:4-5).

In 1 Timothy 5, the Bible talks about young widows who had cast off their first faith (verse 12). They learn(ed) to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not (verse 13).

Nobody wants to be like that!

But sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish between our business and others’ business.

To avoid getting involved in someone else’s affairs, here are ten questions we can ask ourselves: 
  1. Is it my problem, one I’m personally involved in?
  2. Is this my marital problem? Talk it out and work it out with your spouse.
  3. Is this someone else’s marriage problem? Unless you are counseling that person, you don’t need to be involved. If you’re a friend, point your friend to biblical counseling and to the Bible. Do not get involved between the husband and wife if you’re not doing the counseling. If you are counseling a couple (or any two people), the Bible cautions about not listening to both sides of the problem before making a judgment. He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him (Proverbs 18:13). It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2). Unless you are officially counseling, the details of someone’s marital issues are none of your business.
  4. Is this an issue between my child and me? Talk it over and resolve the problem. If you misunderstood or misjudged your child, be quick to apologize.
  5. Is this a problem between me and another individual? Go to that person one-on-one, privately and talk over the issue and resolve it. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).
  6. Is this my work problem? Whom does it involve? Use the authority chain. Go to the other person first. If the problem isn’t resolved, go to the boss. If it's still not resolved, go to the boss over your boss, and so on. Don't talk about the problem with anyone else until you have tried to resolve it one-on-one.
  7. Is this a crime? Crimes get reported to the authorities.
  8. Is this a church problem that directly involves me? In the church, follow Matthew 18:15-17. The offended person goes to the offender. If it isn’t resolved one-on-one, the offended person gets a witness or two to go with him. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, it is presented before the whole church, and if that doesn’t work, the church itself takes action.
  9. Is this a church issue between other people? If you’re not part of the counseling team working with these people, it is none of your business. If you are counseling the people involved, you’re to be discreet, as this is their business and not for you to share with anyone else.
  10. Did this person come to me for help? If so, either point him to an experienced biblical counselor, or if you’re familiar with what the Bible says about his issue, open the Bible and pray with him.

I believe if we ask ourselves these ten questions, we’ll be able to discern whether or not we need to be involved.

We are bound to thank God always for you,
brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly,
and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.
(2 Thessalonians 1:3)

God bless you!


  1. Very helpful advice. Normally I am not at all confrontational. Years ago a friend had her feelings hurt about something the pastor had said from the pulpit about working mothers (which she was) on Mother's Day. She had taken it the wrong way, and she was already planning on not attending next Mother's Day. I was really afraid a root of bitterness was taking hold. We must have moved shortly thereafter, because I decided to write her a letter about the issue. I don't remember what I said now, but I was still having mixed emotions about whether I should say anything at all. I prayed that if it would not be good for her to read what I had written, that the letter would get lost and not reach her. She wrote me some time later that she had received an envelope from me with no letter in it! So I was definitely supposed to keep my mouth shut on that one! Some time later she wrote very glowingly about the pastor, so evidently she was able to put what he had said in perspective or had forgotten about it. So while I was glad God very definitely intervened in that case, in a sense it still left me a bit confused about when to speak and and when not to. Normally I err on the side of not speaking and pray that God will speak to the person about the issue.

    1. There are times to confront and times to pray. I am thankful that God can help us discern. I believe we should confront people about sin--after prayerful consideration and in a spirit of love--if we have peace about it. Most times, though, it's best to let the Lord work in hearts and be active in prayer. I find as a pastor's wife and co-counselor, it has been helpful to have guidelines. What's really MY business, and what isn't? Thank you, Barbara, for your comment. God bless you!


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