Paul often listed destructive behavior in his letters to the church. For example, Romans 1.29, 2 Corinthians 12.20, and 1 Timothy 5.13 are lists of bad behavior.
It is worth noting that gossip is mentioned in all three of Paul’s catalogs of harmful behavior.
Proverbs is right to counsel, “A gossip reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a babbler” (Proverbs 20.19).
In his letter to the Galatians (5.20), Paul includes “strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, and factions” as sins of the flesh.
Paul recognized something that is often overlooked by the church today. People who meddle in the affairs of others with gossip, strife, quarrels, and dissensions are destructive forces in the community.
Gossip and meddling in someone’s affairs act like emotional stimulants. It appears to be an innocent “guilty pleasure,” but the Bible reveals its actual nature.
Anyone active in the church for a while knows the reason why Paul frequently opposed idle talk that harmed the vitality of the church.
I have seen more harm and pain done among believers by gossip, strife, quarrels, and dissensions than by any other thing.
The church in Thessalonica had some members who were busybodies who were not busy with productive work. Paul counseled the church about such persons.
2 Thessalonians 3.10-13 – For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: anyone unwilling to work should not eat.
For we hear that some of you are living irresponsibly, mere busybodies, not doing any work.
Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
Paul had two important thoughts for non-working busybodies.
(1) If they weren’t willing to work, then the church should not feed them.
We should note that God always cares for the vulnerable of society. The widows, orphans, and immigrants are the typical of vulnerable people who should receive the church’s ministry.
The situation involved people who didn’t seem to have enough energy to work, but had enough energy to meddle in the lives of others.
Their behavior disrupted the peace of the church. Paul taught that their bad behavior should not be supported with food earned by hard work.
(2) Busybodies were to repent. They were to work and no longer gossip about other believers.
It is assumed that the gossips and busybodies of the church heard these words as they were read to the congregation.
Paul used shame not to condemn them, but to change their behavior.
2 Thessalonians 3.14-15 – Take note of those who do not obey what we say in this letter; have nothing to do with them, so that they may be ashamed.
Do not regard them as enemies, but admonish them as brothers and sisters.
Words of Warning
What is the best way to put Paul’s words into action? Here are some suggestions.
(1) Stay busy. Paul’s teacher, Gamaliel, taught that the combination of work and the study of the Scriptures will keep people from sin.
His words definitely apply to busybodies.
(2) Don’t “feed” the gossips. When someone begins to talk about another person, we don’t need to feed the discussion by adding tidbits of gossip to the conversation.
(3) Don’t be a busybody. Let’s not participate in the sins that come from the wrong kind of speech.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.