by Laura Springer, M.Div.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines nosy as “Given to prying into the affairs of others; snoopy.” We all know someone whose picture could grace the pages next to that definition. Our culture teaches us not to stick our noses in other people’s business. This is an important and often difficult lesson to learn.
Unfortunately, too many of us have misapplied this lesson, to the detriment of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We misapply this lesson every time we see a brother or sister struggling or making unwise choices and yet fail to act because it is “none of our business.” Biblically, the distress of a brother or sister is our business.
The final words of the Letter of James makes a bold claim: “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (5:19-20). In Galatians 6:1-5, Paul instructs those in the Galatian church to restore a brother or sister caught in transgression, for followers of Christ are to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens. In his letter to the churches of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), Peter reminds his readers that, among other things, they are a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9-10), representing the people before God and representing God before the people.
Despite the lessons of our culture, it is clear from Scripture that we are commanded to stick our hearts in other people’s business. We do this because we love our Lord and our brothers and sisters. We do this with care, grace, and mercy because other hearts are involved and their care is our concern. We do this because we must.