Mind your own business! At some point in your life, you’ve probably told someone off with those words, or else an irritated person slung them at you. It’s not a phrase associated with kindness or grace. Yet God uses those words, through Paul, to instruct us.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 says, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders…” (NIV)
I checked eight versions of the passage, and all but two use the phrase “mind your own business/mind your own affairs.” The King James Version says, “do your own business,” and NASB says, “attend to your own business.” No contradiction in meaning.
Here was my question to God. If He wants me to share Christ with others, am I not automatically in their business?
He reminded me of several examples in my own life to answer the question. I’ll share two.
Example One: I was a new Christian, so excited to share what I’d been learning in the Word. When I spent time with a relative who was struggling in a rocky marriage, I earnestly told her how Jesus could fix everything. “Pray together. It will work out.” She didn’t tell me MYOB. She never spoke to me at all. Ever. I felt awful. What had gone wrong?
Example Two: A young man had been observing my writing and my behavior in a writers’ critique group. I was the only member who wrote Christian fiction. After several weeks, he asked me questions on my theology. He’d been a Roman Catholic and had gotten stuck in the rules and regulations of tradition. He never saw the solid theology of Christian faith in Catholicism. As a result, he rejected the tenet, “Christ is the (only) Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
He asked, “Don’t you think the Christian beliefs of doing good and not doing evil is the same in every religion?”
I agreed such a lifestyle is exactly what Christians believe they should follow. Then I added, “But that’s not the bedrock of Christian faith.”
His face reflected shock, and he followed up with more questions. I answered with a joyful attitude, sharing with him the reason for the Cross. Who could cherish us more than Jesus? I felt the Holy Spirit radiating love to this man.
Like my long lost relative, he never spoke to me again either, never returned to the writing group, but I didn’t feel bad at all. Did my answers scare him away? Did his absence have anything to do with our conversation? Maybe. Maybe not.
The results from both scenarios appear similar, yet Example One left me feeling vaguely guilty, and I have no regrets about Example Two.
The difference: in Example One, I saw a problem and stepped in with never-asked-for advice. The young man in Example Two invited me into discussion. He already had an interest in my response. I’d been minding my own business within the confines of a critique group. I had been living quietly, working with my hands (on the computer keyboard), and gaining the nickname of Sunshine. God was the one who provided opportunity to witness.
Every Christian goes through a season of “how can I serve God better?” Most of us won’t become world renowned evangelists, but God doesn’t call the majority to be famous. For over two thousand years, the Church has thrived because millions of souls whose names we do not know learned how to be available to a lost world. They lived out their faith, worked their jobs, and reached out with the love of Jesus to everyone they met.
I want to be like them, a servant for God who minds her own business.