In my younger years as a student, if I was caught eavesdropping or asked too many questions, an insider would reply “mind your own business.” This idiom means to refrain from meddling, by keeping to your own affairs. Apparently, this expression was first used in the first century by the apostle Paul. Perhaps Paul was referencing part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:1-5. Instead of judging others, Paul wants believers to get your own affairs in order first.
To make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you,12 So that you may bear yourselves becomingly and be correct and honorable and command the respect of the outside world, being dependent on nobody [self-supporting] and having need of nothing, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.
In a letter to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul builds upon this concept. No one likes a control freak who points their finger to cast blame upon anyone who makes a mistake. If I could paraphrase the words above into modern lingo, “don’t tell people how to live, show them by your own example.” Christians who focus on studying the Bible, praying and applying biblical truth set the tone and become the light of the world, Matthew 5:14-16.
Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. 4 Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others, Philippians 2:3-4.
Instead of using similar terminology like take the plank out of your own eye first, Paul focuses on priorities. If your own life is falling apart, you won’t be much help to anyone in need. While Paul doesn’t say be selfish in the passage above, he suggests that you need to take care of your own interests first. Once you get your own house in order by removing any signs of hypocrisy, you can begin to look out for the interests of others.
by Jay Mankus