Learning from Jesus and His words never ends. This Project Plus+ post focuses on how Peter had to learn from Jesus the importance of minding his own business, specifically as it relates to the Kingdom of God here on earth.
Peter: A Swing and a Miss!
Did Jesus say, “Mind your own business?” Maybe not those exact words, but that is precisely what He taught Peter in John 21:15-23 when, after receiving orders to lead the new Church, Peter asked Jesus a question. Did Peter ask for Jesus’ blessing or the gift of wisdom? Or did he ask Jesus for additional guidance on how to carry out this awesome calling? No, instead of focusing on Jesus and what Jesus was commanding him to do, Peter turned, saw the disciple John, and asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Peter’s question seems pretty foolish in light of what Jesus had just told him, but the story gives us hope. Yes, Peter, the same disciple who tempted Jesus to abandon His mission (Matthew 16:21-23) and denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:54-62), now charged to be leader of the early Church, could get it so wrong and still be so right with Jesus. This gives me hope that I, like Peter, can miss the mark completely and still be right with Jesus.
Peter’s struggles between his human nature and his spiritual nature are laid bare in the gospels like no other disciple, showing us his humanity with its traits and tendencies to be arrogant, rash, cowardly, and yes, to mind someone else’s business instead of his own.
A Disciple’s Prime Directive
Note that Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question and preoccupation with what John’s future held was a simple one: “What is that to you? You must follow me.” Whenever our wandering, wondering mind is tempted to take focus off Jesus and place it on someone else, hear Jesus say, “What is that to you? You must follow me.” This is a disciple’s prime directive, to continually learn how to better hear from the Master and follow His leading, not concern for what others are doing or not doing to further the Kingdom of God here on earth.
Jesus taught this same lesson to Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). Martha was preparing the meal while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Martha was concerned about what Mary was not doing (i.e., helping her with the meal) to the point where she asked Jesus to reprimand Mary, but Jesus told Martha to back off! The point of the story is not that I should sit around and do nothing but read my bible and be with Jesus all day; the point is that in the Kingdom everyone has a role and a purpose assigned by God, not me.
If at any given time God calls me to prepare a meal, then I should do it with my whole heart as if for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). If God calls me to take a break, seek His presence, and rest in His love, then I should do that with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30). But I must never be concerned with what God is calling someone else to do at any point in time, or whether or not he/she is obeying God’s call on his/her life. That is between the other person and God; my prime directive is to follow Jesus.
Out of Focus vs. In with Focus
In Matthew 7:3-5 Jesus points out the human tendency to look outward rather than inward, at what others are doing (or not doing) rather than at ourselves and what we are doing (or not doing) as called by the Lord. Our wandering, critical eye is prone to see the faults and defects in others, to see how they are not building up the Body of Christ, rather than applying a self-critical eye to our own character, actions, and contributions to the Body.
The good news is that what God calls us to do, He equips us to do (Hebrews 13:20-21), and He has given us a very specific weapon to use in spiritual battles like this.
What should I do when I am tempted to question what a brother or sister is doing for the Kingdom? Or to wonder why someone else isn’t picking up the slack and doing more? Or (gasp!) to question if he or she is even saved because, “If he (she) is really saved, how can he (she) act that way??!!?” Let’s be honest, we’ve all had these types of thoughts at one time or another; at the very least, we were tempted to think them.
Do not be fooled into thinking such thoughts are some type of discernment from the Holy Spirit. They are NEVER from the Holy Spirit, but from the evil realm, and must be immediately rejected.
In Ephesians 6:17, the Word of God is called the Sword of the Spirit for a reason—the Word is a weapon to use in spiritual battles. Here is a two-point, fail-safe plan to use the Word of God in spiritual battle, to have victory over the temptation to mind someone else’s business instead of your own:
- Proactive Prayer: Rather than thinking negative, wondering, critical thoughts about a brother or sister, pray for that person. Pray this scripture out loud:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6)
Use this prayer to pray for that brother or sister rather than criticize or wonder about him or her. In prayer, specifically:
- Thank God for that disciple in Christ and his/her partnership in God’s work here on earth.
- Pray that person into the “good work” that God began in him/her.
- Praise God for His power to carry thru “to completion” what He started in that person.
- Trust and affirm that God will lead that person to spiritual maturity and a place in heaven, just like you trust God will do for you. He or she is no less worthy than you are for this grace from God.
- Remember Jesus’ Words: “What is that to you? You must follow me.” The essence of these words is, “It is none of your business; just focus on and follow me.” If you are particularly prone to this temptation, write Jesus’ words on index cards, sticky notes, etc. and place them everywhere: on bathroom mirrors, car dashboard, computer screen, refrigerator door, etc. to continually remind yourself of what Jesus is saying to you.
The thoughts, the temptation, will go away if you use these steps. Pray for others, then turn the wandering, wondering mind inward, re-focus on your own spiritual state of mind, and keep in step with where Jesus is leading YOU! This is how to mind your own business the way Jesus taught.