30 Days to Taming Your Tongue - What you say (and don't say) will improve your relationships by Deborah Smith Pegues
Day Eleven - The Meddling Tongue
Some of you are living idle lives refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people's business - 2 Thessalonians 3:11
Unlike gossips, meddlers usually seek personal information directly from their subjects. "How can you afford such an expensive item?" "What size is the dress you're wearing?" "How much did you pay for this house?" "How long can you afford to be off from work?" These are the types of questions that serve no other purpose than to satisfy an inquiring mind. In all fairness, not everyone who makes inquiries is meddling. Many are sincerely interested in helping others.
Whether you are genuinely concerned or just plain curious, be especially careful to avoid probing questions when conversing with those who are ill. "What did the doctor say about your condition?" Bad question. It is best to wait for someone to volunteer detailed information about his personal health.
If you are prone to natural curiosity, you must make a special effort to keep your inquisitiveness within the bounds of what is socially and spiritually appropriate. In some situations you may have no intentions of prying: however, you may still run the risk of your inquisitiveness offending others.
The Bible offers an interesting perspective on meddling - He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears - Proverbs 26:17 - A dog's ears are one of the most sensitive parts of his body; if you pull them, he may bite you. Likewise, when we stick our noses where they do not belong, we may get a negative response. Even if you feel you have earned the right to stick your nose into a situation, walk softly. You might want to pray about it first and leave the matter to God. He is always better at influencing circumstances than we are.
If you are a parent, some meddling is certainly in order to keep your inexperienced, live-at-home children from going down the wrong path. Don't be afraid of their negative attitudes or their rejection. In the final analysis, most of them will appreciate your intervention. If your children have reached adulthood, try to accept the fact that grown-ups do not need parenting. The law of sowing and reaping the consequences of bad decisions is still one of the most effective teachers of life's lessons. Give them space to learn.
If you are indeed a genuine meddler, know that God does not consider your nose-poking a small matter. He classifies this sin --yes, sin-- with murder and stealing. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people's affairs - 1 Peter 4:15
When tempted to meddle, why not engage yourself in a little self-interrogation? Ask yourself, "Do I have a sincere, unselfish motive for prying into this matter, or am I attempting to control things for my desired objectives?" Someone once said that one reason why people who mind their own business are successful is that they have so little competition. Think about that!
I am genuinely interested in others and only seek information from them that will allow me to serve, love, and support them better.