Miguel at “God Directed Deviations” has written a very interesting (and thought-provoking) post called “Do Christians have an obligation to pry into the lives of others?”
In his post, Miguel brings up instructions and statements in Scripture such as “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16) and “Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example” (Philippians 3:17).
These passages indicate a certain amount “transparency” or familiarity between brothers and sisters in Christ. But, does that mean that we are supposed to “pry” into one anothers’ lives?
Miguel makes a few interesting comments regarding this question (beginning with the point about identifying believers by their fruit):
Yes, I suppose that their just might be a place for fruit inspectors within the body of Christ. Might be…
But there’s a major flaw in some thinking here. People are not cans that need to be pried open to have their fruit inspected. Are they? Neither are they Tupperware containers of different opacities whereby others can examine their fruit in degrees of transparency. Fruit grows and should be visible. If it’s not visible yet, it seems presumptuous to pry someone open to see if there are any fruit inside so as to make judgments regarding their spiritual state.
There is certainly a level or purposed, or intentional transparency needed for others to grow.
Like Miguel, I believe this type of “transparency” is necessary for people to grow in maturity in Jesus Christ. But, also like Miguel, I think this transparency must be “intentional.” What does this mean?
Well, it means that we are not to pry into the lives of other people. What?!?! How will we know their fruit if we don’t pry? How will we “consider one another” (Hebrews 10:24) if we don’t pry?
It’s simple. You see, “pry” indicates that we’re going somewhere where we’re not invited or wanted. We’re using force to try to break into something that’s not open to us.
But, when we intentionally open ourselves to one another, there is no reason for prying. When we invite each other into our lives, we do not need to use force to understand what’s going on.
No, we don’t pry into the lives of other believers. Instead, we go where we’re invited. When people share their lives with us and when we share our lives with them – when we live together in community in Jesus Christ – there will be no reason to pry. We will understand the importance of having other people observe our way of life, and they will understand the important of having us observe their way of life.
But, if someone doesn’t share their life with you? Well, you can’t make them, and shouldn’t try. Encourage them? Yes. Show them by example? Yes. Explain the importance? Yes. Pry? No.
Instead of prying, we need mutual transparency with mutual concern and care for one another… no prying involved.