Are You a Manipulator?

That sounds rather strong and offensive.
Let’s try, shrewd—doesn’t the Bible tell us to be shrewd?

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16. 

Manipulation is used because WE MUST BE IN CONTROL.
It doesn’t keep us innocent. We aren’t shrewd.
We are disobedient.
Yet justify our action.

Are rules for the “other guy” but not for you?
Driving across country, we’ve experienced unique drivers. 
In Texas, when the highway backs up, people 4-wheel across the grass to the frontage road and keep going. 
This isn’t just one random driver, but multiple drivers. 
We watch them do it! Maybe that’s why there’s a frontage road?
I don’t know their reasons for acting as they do. Perhaps they’re having a baby and must get to the hospital, or their house is on fire and must get home. But it seems to warrant their speedy exit from the highway.

Who drives the speed limit? 
One son once said, “The speed limit is merely a suggestion.”  
Do those police, who make their money on fast drivers, think the same?

Another son once said of me, “Mom doesn’t break rules; she bends the rules to make them work.” 
We all rationalize our rule-breaking.
When the rules are man-made, we question their rationale, and weigh consequences.
But what about God’s rules?

We want God to make exceptions when we transgress.
A believer marries an unbeliever. 
God said it doesn’t work.
Yet we try. 
Consequences of disobedience come.
Women tell me their heartaches. They knew when they married that he was unsaved, but they thought they knew better than God....
The consequences are a sign of God's faithfulness.
What God says, happens.

What about honoring our parents?
We are all about honor when we are the parents. 
But what about when we are the grown-up child?
I watch my sister care for my mom who has dementia. 
She allows mom to decide if she drinks coffee, even if it’s late in the evening and she knows mom will then be up all night—and so will she. 
My sister could justify manipulating the situation, after all, my mom isn't thinking clearly, so that she can sleep through the night, but she honors mom. 
The consequences of honoring seem high—she will be up all night and have to work the next day.

Mom wants to give her cat milk. Milk makes her cat vomit everywhere. My sister will step through it to help my mom, then have to clean it up.
Her carpet is ruined by the cats. 
My sister allows mom to give her cat milk, rather than manipulate the situation.
She obeys the principle of honoring mom—to her own hurt.
It looks like she is getting the raw deal. 
The consequences of obedience seem too hard. 
But the situation isn’t over.
And God sees her sacrifice of obedience. And it is a sacrifice.
God does remember.
God is faithful.

God gives parents control of their children.
Consider a social worker’s job. Often they remove children from their parents’ care. From the outside they’re the hero.
Wasn’t that child suffering?
The parents’ neglect or abuse demanded such treatment. 

What would happen if the church helped those parents be better parents (and prayed earnestly for their salvation), instead of the state taking the children away from their parents? 
(This would require extensive counseling, discipleship and time in prayer and God's help. This would also require us to change the way we think.)

Taking the child out of the home goes against God’s rules for family.
God gave parents ultimate control.
We say, “This is an exception. We know better.” 
But does God give exceptions to His rules?

Allowing the government to have anything—Look at how well they use our money— doesn’t fix the problem, it creates bigger problems. 
Why should we trust the government with our children?
Look at our education. 
We’ve given the state our children, then are surprised our children are socialists.
Hitler knew this. He took the children.
Ukraine immigrants, who hid in the woods to worship God, do not separate their children during the church service for children’s church. They see this as an act of removing their parental control.
How much do we manipulate God’s commands to serve our own needs? 

I’ve seen where a boyfriend has “rescued” a girl from an abusive situation, only to find the girl wasn’t so innocent.
By his manipulation, he got what he wanted by dishonoring her parents.
He isolated her from her family—not a good foundation for any marriage.
They seemed to have a happy marriage.
“Everything’s fine.”
But God’s rules can’t be ignored.
Time brings consequences.

The marriage ended in divorce, but not before bringing children to suffer too. 
The damsel is now on drugs. 
The boy went to prison for something. 
Maybe her parents did know what was best.

I've written before about wives submitting to their husbands. The Bible is clear.
It doesn't give conditions or qualifiers like, "Only if your husband is right."
When wives lead, because their husband's aren't,  they justify their position, but they are not right.
It's easier for me to do something and ask for my husband's forgiveness, rather than ask him first—because I know he'd tell me to wait.
Those are manipulations. And Disrespect.
And Disobedience.

We all manipulate God’s rules to fit what we want.
We’re good justifiers. 
We think it’s good.
Another word for manipulator is deceiver.
We deceive ourselves.
That’s why the Bible says, 

The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick, Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8-9. 

That’s why we must be in God’s Word—to know truth. 
—To keep from being deceived by our own desires.

God’s Spirit shows us we are deceiving ourselves, justifying wrong, manipulating the situation to get our own way.
But we must be listening to hear Him.

I don’t like the consequences of disobeying God’s rules.
I suffer.
Nor do I want my boys to suffer for my disobedience.

When one of our boys had extensive trouble following my rules, I would tell him, “Rules are for your—”, then wait for him to complete the sentence, “protection.”
God’s principles protect us.
They protect us from hurt we can’t even imagine.
When we disobey, we suffer.
Because God is faithful.
His Words are true and right.
That faithfulness is what I hang on to when God says, “I am His child.”
But that same faithfulness is what I must cling to when I disobey.
Because God is faithful, His Word is true, Then He must discipline.
What God says will happen.

God is preparing me for Him.
That manipulator in me—that justifies wrong and deceives—must be rooted out and destroyed. 
That attitude of getting my way must be destroyed.
Only God can do it. 
Because I would rationalize even that.

Are you a manipulator?
Admit it—you are.
The second step is to confess and allow God to control every step of your life, even when you’re tempted to manipulate His rules “to make things work better.”

God’s faithfulness—a curse or a cure?
Depends on whether you continue to be a manipulator or allow God to control.

Displaying 1 comment

I've been wanting to read this article ever since it popped up in my emails and finally had a chance. I knew right away that it was for me, and boy, was it ever. Guilty as charged. Just today I was doing that and reaping a guilty conscience. Manipulation for any reason is an ugly sin, though it always seems so easy to justify it as being for the good. Usually we have to twist things around in our mind or in what we say in order to make it "O.K.," but when we have to do that we should know we're in the wrong. I will be much more conscious of this now, hopefully beforehand so I don't do it. Thanks for sharing, your thoughts are always so helpful. God bless, Anne

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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