Nosiness and Manipulation (NOT Spiritual)
Unspiritual people have a tendency to pry into other people’s business. In other words, they have an unhealthy interest in the private affairs of others. This is nosiness and can be observed when Christ prophesied how Peter would eventually die, which prompted Peter to nosily inquire about how John would die. Jesus responded, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:18-23). This can be translated as: “Don’t concern yourself with John; your business is to focus on what I’ve called YOU to do.” It was a soft correction, but a correction nevertheless.
Needless to say, if you sense someone is snooping into your personal business put an immediate stop to it, even if it’s a pastor or pastor’s wife, but please don’t overreact. This will erect a protective boundary in your relationships, which is important because people who are nosy also tend to be gossips, even unfortunately some pastors and their spouses. In short, if you don’t want private matters spread to the community, don’t give-in to inquisitive minds.
There’s a freeing revelation here: Don’t concern yourself with other people’s business; it’s not your job. If you sense something is wrong with a certain person or group, pray for them; if they ask for counsel, give it. If you can genuinely help, do it. But don’t nose into other people’s lives, unless a crime is being committed. And, even then, you have to use wisdom to tackle the situation effectively. How God works in other believer’s lives is none of our concern. Our concern is to follow the Lord and fulfill the responsibilities of our unique callings.
Paul expressed it perfectly when he asked, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (Romans 14:4). He was referring to judging other believers on any type of disputable matter, like what food to eat and what holiday to celebrate. By stressing “someone else’s servant,” Paul meant God’s servant, that is, other believers. Simply put, other believers are God’s servant, not your servant or my servant. Even in cases where a believer functions within a pastor’s “flock,” the pastor is merely the under-shepherd, not the Chief Shepherd; Christ is the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4). This is why the text instructs pastors to not lord it over believers, but rather be humble, godly examples (if they can’t do that then they have no business being pastors).
This is a very liberating! Being a nosy religionist is an exhausting and unhappy life — constantly nosing into other people’s affairs, negatively judging them, trying to manipulate, stalking “heretics” (aka anyone who openly disagrees with what their sect insists is the truth, even if it’s not actually scriptural), keeping up appearances, putting on airs, etc.
A good example of manipulating others is when an arrogant sectarian tries to manipulate you into coming to their assembly and joining their sect. I’m not talking about a friendly invitation here or there; I’m talking about conceited coercing that borders on harassment, even if it’s done with a fake smile. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been walking with the Lord for decades and have ministered to thousands of people across the landscape. These nosy controlling types won’t accept you unless you’re doing what they’re doing and going where they’re going. They’re pompous, condescending, discrediting, disrespectful and annoying. They unsurprisingly suck the life out of you, the very opposite of what the LORD – the Fountain of Life – does (Psalm 36:9).
What a burden to live like this! No wonder the Pharisees were so joyless and hostile.
By contrast, Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden light (Matthew 11:29-30). We’re free of legalistic nosiness and all that entails, e.g. manipulation. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
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