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September 8, 1996

Don’t Be a Busybody

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Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own. PROVERBS 26:17
Only an idiot would grab a dog by the ears or the tail. Such stupidity can only lead to trouble, usually in the form of painful bites from sharp canine teeth.
The bystander who interferes in someone else’s argument is just like that idiot, Solomon says. Uninvited meddling seldom helps the quarreling parties. At the least, it draws another person into the quagmire; at the worst, it might make the original combatants turn on the third person like a couple of angry dogs. Nothing good can come of it.
It’s very easy to get involved in workplace disagreements that don’t concern us. It doesn’t matter what the argument is about—the CEO’s speech at the staff meeting, a difficult deadline, a product development strategy, or the behavior of another employee—we all love to make our opinions known. But just because we happen to overhear a couple of people quarreling in the next cubicle does not mean we have to join in. Unless the discussion is about something that concerns us directly, we’re better off just ignoring it.
We might be tempted to think that butting in where we don’t belong really isn’t that big of a deal. There are much worse things we could be doing, right? That’s certainly true, but before we let ourselves off the hook, let’s see how the apostle Peter categorized busybodies: “If you suffer,” he wrote, “it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler (1 Peter 4:15, emphasis added).
That’s some pretty tough company, isn’t it? Keep that in mind next time you get the urge to interfere. Remember Solomon’s words. If it doesn’t concern you, stay neutral.

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