1 Timothy chapter 5 and verses 11-13 says this: “But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not”.
This is similar to my own experiences regarding people who are unemployed. If they are unemployed for any period of time, if they do not have strength of will, it sounds hard to say but they learn to be idle. “Learn to be idle” is a difficult Greek construction, though the New International Version makes it clear I think: “They get into the habit of being idle.” It is not that they sit down and study how to be idle, but over a period of time—even though they may start out looking for a job and using their spare time in a profitable manner—inertia sets in. It’s tough and I know as I have been there! It becomes hard in my experience to avoid being idle even though “idle” is a tough word.
Notwithstanding their good intentions, the out of work start getting out of bed a little bit later, taking their time doing this or that. They find over time that it is far easier to sit around and drink their tea, call their neighbours or family, chew the fat, and talk about this or that person. For example:
“How is X doing?”
“But you know he has a problem.”
“Oh, does he?”
“Yes. His marriage is not going well.”
“Well, you know, I went through a problem like that back a few years ago. Maybe I’ll give him a call and give him some advice. It is tried and tested because it worked for me. If he needs me to, I’ll go over and watch his kids for him.”
Pretty soon they are fully involved in somebody’s marital crisis when they should not have even known about it! It is evident that being a busybody is linked with gossip, tale-telling, and spreading scandal. They all usually go hand in hand.
Once a person starts messing in other people’s business, before long he is telling his friends what is happening and how wonderfully he is advising and helping these people. Soon all sorts of rumours are flying back and forth about so and so and this and that. Like a law of nature, it is only a matter of time before a relationship conflict erupts. We can see this in the church too sadly? War and disunity!
Experience shows that it often comes back to bite the meddler! The Old Testament provides a graphic image of what happens to such a person: “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears” (Proverbs 26:17).
Just a few inches away from those dog’s ears are big, sharp teeth! When we meddle in other people’s affairs, it comes back to hurt us. No one wins when meddling happens.
So this is just a short word and thought if we find ourselves furloughed, not working, or on a long sabbatical and for us in such circumstances to be wary of this easy trap into which anyone can fall.