He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
Even a friendly dog will bite, if you grab and pull its ears. And here is the busybody, stopping to get involved in the strife of others, who will soon be bitten by both parties. The Preacher Solomon taught you the wisdom of avoiding the conflicts of others.
Peacemakers are wonderful (Matt 5:9). But the greatest work of making peace involves your own fighting. If you have offended another, you are to make peace with him (Matt 5:23-26). If another has offended you, you are to make peace with him (Matt 18:15-22).
By great care, and only after wise reflection, should you get involved in others’ conflicts and try to make peace for them. For even your own strife, which you know well, must be resolved with caution, let alone that of which you know little (Pr 25:8). After wise thought, make sure your words are good ones spoken in due season (Pr 15:23; 16:20).
Spiritual and wise men should try to help others with their conflicts and problems (Rom 15:1-3; Gal 6:1-3), which includes fighting and strife. You are your brothers’ keepers in such things (Lev 19:17; I Thess 5:14). And those in authority, as parents and pastors, have the honorable right and obligation to search out problems and make peace (Pr 25:2).
But some people are busybodies. They love to be busy in other men’s matters (I Pet 4:15; I Tim 5:13). This is a sin, and it is to be avoided by wise men. Peter’s strong warning associates this sin with murder, theft, and evil deeds. Stay busy with your own things. If you were fulfilling your duties as you should, you would not have time for others’ things.
Meddlers love to get involved in disputes or trouble between others. They crave the inside information of private controversies. It gives them a perverse sense of worth. It makes them feel important to be involved in others’ problems, though they are usually terrible about solving their own problems. Every man has enough problems of his own.
Some at Thessalonica were so prone to this sin they even stopped working. Paul wrote, “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” (II Thess 3:11-12). He had written in the first epistle, “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (I Thess 4:11).
Women have a great temptation to be meddlers, or busybodies, in strife not belonging to them. So Paul recommended marriage and children for young widows, to keep them from idleness and the temptation of such folly (I Tim 5:12-15). A busy woman who is conscientious about her duties will not have time or interest in such dangerous things. Idleness is a curse on any people, as it was in Sodom of old (Ezek 16:49). The true adage declares, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Stay busy, and do not meddle.
Jesus taught that each man has sufficient evil threatening his own life each day to keep him fully occupied (Matt 6:34). He called it hypocrisy to worry and judge another person about a mote of dust in his eye, when you should be fully occupied with getting the beam out of your own eye (Matt 7:3-5). Both Solomon and He that is far greater than Solomon have warned you. Keep away from others’ squabbles. Leave every dog’s ears alone!
The Lord Jesus Christ also set a perfect example in this matter. “And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you” (Luke 12:13-14)? Dear reader, you can follow this holy example of Jesus today. The difference is very great between suffering as a busybody and suffering as a Christian (I Pet 4:14-16).