Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 15, 1961

On Taking A Dog By The Ears

Brooks C Webb; Lewisburg, Tennessee

A busybody is defined as one who is an "officious or inquisitive person; a meddler." (Webster) The Bible very strongly speaks out in condemnation of such individuals. In speaking of certain women, Paul said, "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busy-bodies; speaking things which they ought not." (1 Tim. 5:13) Busy-bodies will always be "found speaking things which they ought not." The busybodies are the town gossips, they are vicious type characters which care absolutely nothing for the truth, nor the character which they try to murder. They are held in contempt by everyone. No one is going to be completely idle. If he is not engaged in a profitable enterprise, he will be found in one that is unprofitable, yea, even unrighteous — he will become interested in the affairs of another, which are in reality none of his business. Such people are indeed dangerous to the community and are social menaces.

Peter said, (1 Peter 4:15) "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters." Here the busy-body is listed in the same category as the murderer, the thief and the evil-doer. It is easier to respect the murderer or thief in many cases than the busy-body. The meddler in other men's affairs is repulsive. He meddles with that which does not concern him, and is not particular as to the accuracy with which he represents others.

Solomon had somewhat to say concerning one that has little enough judgment to meddle in strife which does not concern him. "He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears." (Prov. 26:17) It is a dangerous practice to take a dog by the ears. But once it is done, often it is not easy to let go! Occasionally the consequences are greater than were anticipated! Someone has compared the meddler in other men's matters with a monkey who holds a snake in its paw — difficult to hold, yet dangerous to release.

Yet in view of the clear and plain Bible teaching, there are those who claim to be children of God who will presume to meddle with the private affairs of another. But even more tragic is that there are those who will meddle with the private affairs of a congregation of Saints. These are the most contemptible. In this we are not speaking of those who would correct us when they think we are teaching error. No, we readily understand that a public proclamation and pronouncement of a doctrine is a public invitation to review. Such a review is not meddling in other men's matters, neither is it meddling when folk think we are in religious error and come to us in honest efforts to set us on the road that leads to life eternal. Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Paul said, "Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine." (2 Tim. 4:2-3) He further instructed Timothy "them that sin, rebuke before all." (I Tim. 5:20) Therefore, we welcome, at any time, an effort by anyone to correct any sin of which we may be guilty, or to "teach us more perfectly the way of the Lord." We are willing to "give a reason for the hope within us" and to "contend earnestly for the faith," and change when we are wrong. We do not appreciate, however, meddlers, who seeking to destroy us rather than save us, going under- ground with communistic efforts, dealing with personalities, and matters of judgment, rather than pointing out to us wherein we have erred. Such meddlers are moral cowards.

From time to time there will be those who seem to have nothing better to do than to spend their time in seeing how much meddling they can do in the affairs of others, especially of churches. In this there is no interest in the eternal welfare of those in whose business they are meddling; neither is there an effort to correct the supposed wrong being done; nor is their interest the building up of the church of the Lord. If such persons had at heart a sincere interest for souls there would not be the whispering, backbiting campaigns of calumny. If these were efforts put forth by Christians they would not seize upon things which are at the very best doubtful, and then circulate them from "house to house" behind the back of those against whom they press their campaigns of hate. We do not hesitate to charge all who are thus guilty of willful dishonesty.

We are not ashamed of what we practice and teach religiously. If there be those who think we preach or teach error, then let them be as a man and come out and say so, point us to the book, chapter and verse which we violate or pervert. That which we teach and practice "is not done in a corner."

Frequently preachers will try to meddle in the affairs of another congregation. When they cannot have their way, they will do all within their power to "draw away disciples after them." Hardly any effort will be spared by them, even to the extent of providing material to aid the sectarians in their efforts to withstand the truth of God. We do not hesitate to state that such preachers' hearts are closer to the sectarians than they are to the church of the Lord. They feel more at home in the presence of a sectarian preacher than in the presence of a faithful messenger of the word.

"And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business ...." (1 Thess. 4:11)