“Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of those capable creatures who can manage their own concerns and those of other folks into the bargain.”p. 1
Certainly the meaning here is managing others’ concerns that she has no business managing, and we see that from her observing the comings and goings of Avonlea from her perch to giving advice unasked for. Rachel Lynde does not prove false to our introduction of her character.
And we laugh at her character and know people like her and nod in agreement at the character that is so familiar. Montgomery manages to make her mostly likable—despite being the town busy body. How? She humanizes her: Mrs. Lynde is not a stock, flat character like Josie Pye—or any of the Pyes.
And hopefully that just might encourage us to get to know better the other busybodies we might know so we might both have compassion on them and also have some influence to redeem that concern.
For it is not necessarily wrong to be concerned for others. No, we should not have a morbid interest in others’ difficulties. Nor should we ever be the conduit by which others’ concerns become known to the community. But concern, coupled with compassion and action and divorced from gossip blesses others.
We are commanded to bear one’s another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). And we can’t bear what we don’t know about. Yet that knowledge can’t come from mere observation with no context. We must know people. Which means we must spend time with them. And pray for wisdom to know when to—borrowing Marilla’s phrase—put our oar in.
This is certainly all quite vague of course. There is no formula for the hows and whens of managing others’ concerns. But that wisdom is born of relationship—relationship with others and with the wisdom that comes from the fear of the Lord. That is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is God’s ways and purposes, which we, thankfully, can see in his word, made clear through spending time in it accompanied by prayer and the fellowship with the saints—living and dead.
When we are rightly related to the Lord, we can correctly manage the concerns of others. It is not enough to merely have Mrs. Lynde’s good intentions. We must couple those good intentions with wisdom and compassion that will glorify God and do good to others.