MANIPULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Fear of man is a dangerous trap.  – Proverbs 29:25 TLB

When you enter any relationship, romantic, social, business or otherwise, be careful what you permit in the beginning because it’ll come to be expected. For example, if you have to buy someone’s friendship by letting them manipulate you, be prepared to keep paying. And don’t plan on changing them. Just think how difficult it is to change yourself —so what are your chances of changing somebody else? Decide now what you can live with later. And stop living like there’s no tomorrow—because tomorrow always comes! Solomon said, “Fear of man is a dangerous trap.” Relationships can’t thrive with one person calling all the shots while the other struggles for approval.

Paul said he had no interest in “trying to make people accept him.” His only interest was pleasing God. (See Gal 1: 10 NCV). God will never ask you to violate your values or disobey His will just to be in the good graces of another person. In fact, it’s better to be alone than to allow anyone other than God to control you. Let people know up front that while you’d like their approval you can live without it if you have to. Respect others, and make it clear you expect the same in return.

Above all, never let emotion win out over wisdom, or drown out the voice of God in your life. When you ‘re insecure you can be drawn into wrong relationships. Security is a fundamental part of your identity as God’s child. Paul says you “are God’s masterpiece.. .created.. .anew in Christ” (Eph 2: I () NIT). God wants you free to be who you are. That’s why when you ask Him to guide your relationships, He’ll help you to form the right ones.



GODLINESS

Remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.  – Revelation 2:5 NAS

How do busy people living fast-paced and complicated lives develop the quality of godliness? By going to church? Billy Sunday said “Going to church will no more make you a Christian than going to a garage will make you an automobile.” Your environment—even a spiritual one—won’t necessarily make you godly.

Christ speaks to all of us: “Remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” Go back in your mind to your first days as a believer. Do you remember when (a) you talked about the Lord and it would fill your heart with delight; (b) prayer was exciting and you felt empowered as you spent time with Him; (c) the Bible was filled with soul-thrilling insights you’d never seen before; (d) sharing your faith with someone represented the highlight of your week; (e) your devotion to Christ was consistent, fulfilling,  enriching, deep? What happened? Do you feel like one of the Ephesian Christians Christ was speaking to?

Distance from God is a frightening thing—because you don’t even know it’s happening! Understand this: God will not accelerate His pace to catch up with ours; we need to slow down in order to get back into step with Him. God won’t speak to us during a commercial break on our favorite TV show. No, we must seek quietness so we can hear His still, small voice. God can’t be fitted into the framework of our complicated lives; we must put Him first and keep Him there, if our lives are to be characterized by that all-encompassing word—Godliness.



FOR WORKING PARENTS

Her children arise up, and call her blessed.  – Proverbs 31 :28

The story is told of a mother who came home from work after a long hard day. Her little girl ran out to greet her. “Mommy, wait until I tell you what happened today.” After listening to a few sentences her mother responded by indicating that the rest could wait as she needed to get dinner started. During the meal the phone rang, then other family members’ stories were longer and louder than the little girl’s. Once again she tried after the kitchen was cleaned and her brother’s homework questions were answered. But by then it was time for bed. When her mom came to tuck her in, the child looked up and asked, “Mommy, do you really love me, even when you don’t have time to listen to me?”

Are you a working parent coming home every night to a pile of household chores? Are your weekends hectic playing catch-up? Do you feel guilty about disciplining your children because your time with them is so limited? Do you fear they’re growing up without you? That soon the tables will be turned, and maybe one day they won’t have time for you?

Every working parent faces it, and it’s tough. But it’s not impossible. Talk about it to your child! You’d be amazed how much they understand. And make time to listen! Let your child know that they can talk to you any time, about anything, without having to be afraid, ashamed, or put off till later. And be sure to ask for God’s help. He’s “a very present help in trouble” (Ps 46:1).

If you practice these principles, one day your children may “Rise up and call you blessed.”



WINNING THE BIGGEST BATTLE OF ALL

Christ… is your example. Follow in his steps.  – 1 Peter 2:21 TLB

Richard Halverson writes: “Do you want to be a winner? Compete against yourself, not somebody else. Outrunning your rival doesn’t mean you ran your best race. You can win over another and still not fulfill your potential. To be your best you must compete with yourself. It’s life’s biggest contest. A loser is a winner—however many his losses, if he conquers himself. And a winner is a loser—however many his victories, if he loses in the battle with himself. Alexander the Great conquered the world, yet cursed his own lack of self-control. Victory over others may in fact be the very thing that contributes to the winner’s failure to conquer self. Winning makes him arrogant, independent, thoughtless—and sometimes cruel. To put it another way, it isn’t what happens to you that makes the difference, but how you handle it. The one who stops maturing spiritually because he thinks he knows more scripture than others, or has more success in ministry, is still far from being what Christ has planned for him.”

If you must compare yourself with another, compare yourself with Christ. “Christ.. .is your example. Follow in his steps: he never sinned, never told a lie, never answered back when insulted; when he suffered he did not threaten to get even; he left his case in the hands of God who always judges fairly (IPe 2:21-23 TLB). Go ahead, measure yourself by that standard! And when you see how far short you fall, get down on your knees and ask God to mold and fashion your life into the full potential, the divine original He intended. Do that, and you can win the biggest battle of all!



ALL THE GRACE WE NEED

Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.  – Hebrews 4:16 NAS

Hebrews 4:16 says we can “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.” We don’t have to hold anything back in prayer. And we don’t have to wonder if we are wasting our time. We have been authorized to enter His throne room, using the name of Jesus.

Aren’t you glad it’s not a throne of judgment? Who among us could stand it? No, it’s a throne of grace, “unmerited favor.” It’s a throne because the One who sits on it is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. It’s also where our Father gives His sons and daughters what we could never give ourselves. Yes, He gives us what we don’t deserve and could never earn, from a throne that never runs low in its provision—and it is all tied to our drawing near in prayer. God has all the grace we need to help us, but we have to go before His throne to ask for it. Therefore a prayer-less Christian is also a grace-less Christian! Christians who are not praying as a way of life are not growing in their spiritual life because they are not hanging around the throne that dispenses grace.

Notice, the grace we receive at God’s throne is designed to help us “in time of need.” Think about that. Grace is given based on the need of the moment. God will not give you tomorrow’s grace until tomorrow, so don’t bother asking for it. But don’t worry, the provision of grace we have in Christ will not run out tomorrow, or ever. So, you can’t go to God too often!



WORKING WITH DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES   

As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.   – Romans 12:18

Many people dream of being in full time ministry. Their goal is to work where there’s praise music playing and co-workers praying. With Scripture verses on the wall and crosses around every neck, they imagine such a place to be holy, always joyful and peaceful. They believe that in such a place one of their primary sources of stress—getting along with difficult people—will disappear. Don’t you believe it! Paul and Barnabas, two great Christian leaders, fought so badly over John Mark that they had to split up. The early church experienced financial squabbles, moral scandals and doctrinal disputes. Understand this: until the Lord comes back you’ll always experience difficulty relating to certain people. There’s very little difference in how people operate when they’re under pressure. The mind is not new, it is constantly being renewed— even the minds of Christians. This doesn’t mean they’re not sincere, it just means they’re not as mature as they should be. Pettiness, greed, ambition and favoritism all creep in as the enemy fires his darts and hopes to create a flame. So if we are going to drive in our hostile environments, we must increase our capacity to work with difficult personalities. How? By preparing yourself spiritually through prayer and the reading of God’s Word before you get to work. By committing to be Christ-like on the job in your attitudes and actions. Will you always succeed? No! Will you be stretched? Yes! Can it be done? Absolutely! “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2Co 12:9). How do you become more gracious? By drawing each day on God’s grace!



JESUS KNOWS HOW YOU FEEL

He . . . experienced . . . all the pain, all the testing     – Hebrews 2:18 TM

Are you financially strapped? Jesus knows how you feel. He said He didn’t have a place to lay His head. Do you feel taken advantage of? Jesus paid taxes to a foreign emperor. But what if your problem is the opposite? You have a successful business to run. Can Jesus relate? Absolutely. He recruited and oversaw His own organization. Seventy men, plus an assortment of women who looked to Him for leadership. Do you make budgets and hire personnel? Christ knows leadership is not easy. His group included a zealot who hated the Romans and a tax collector who worked for them. And how about family tension? “When His family heard what was happening, they tried to take Him home with them. ‘He is out of his mind’ they said” (Mk 3:21 NIV). Have you been falsely accused? The night before His death people “tried to find something false against Jesus so they could kill him” (Mt 26:59 NCV). Oh yes, Jesus has been there. He experienced “All the pain, all the testing.” Max Lucado writes: “Jesus was angry enough to purge the temple, distraught enough to weep in public, fun-loving enough to be called a drunkard, winsome enough to attract kids, poor enough to borrow a coin for a sermon illustration, radical enough to get kicked out of town, responsible enough to care for His mother, tempted enough to know the smell of Satan, and anxious enough to sweat blood.” But why would Christ endure earth’s toughest pain? So you would know that “He is able…to run to the cry of. ..those who are being… tested” (Heb 2: 18 AMP). Whatever you’re facing today, Jesus knows how you feel!



UNDERSTANDING TEMPTATION

God.. .does not tempt anyone.  James 1:13 NAS

Trials and temptations are very different. Trials are permitted by God to develop character in us. On the other hand, temptations are sent by Satan to bring us down. There’s no way a temptation to sexual sin can be called a trial sent from God. He doesn’t test our faith by setting us up to sin. Just because your hotel room offers pornographic movies doesn’t mean it must be okay with God if you watch them, otherwise He wouldn’t have allowed you to check into that room. Get real! James wrote: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’ . . .each one is tempted when he is. . .enticed.” The word “entice” describes a fisherman putting a worm on a hook to entice a fish to bite. The fish is looking for a snack, not to become dinner for the fisherman. No mouse goes looking for a mousetrap. What the mouse wants is the cheese. But its legitimate hunger for cheese deceives it into thinking that the cheese is there for the taking, and the trap is sprung. The legitimate use of food nourishes your body, the lust for it produces gluttony and sickness. The proper use of money can bless you, the irresponsible use of it can enslave you with debt. Food. Sex. Money. Power. When the desire for these things becomes all consuming, the warning bell is ringing. Pay attention!

But the Good News is, you’re not in this fight alone. Peter writes: “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2Pe 2:9). Victory comes when you draw closer to the One who defeated the tempter both in life and in death. So call on Him today. He’s ready to help you!



BE MORE GENTLE!

Be. .. gentle. .. bearing with one another in love.  – Ephesians (NIV)

Abraham Maslow said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Face it, because of our strong personalities some of us are inclined to use a hammer when something gentler will do. If that’s your problem, try using the following T’s:

(1) Total picture. A middle-aged man walked into a bar. “Do you have anything to cure hiccups?” The bartender slapped him across the face.  “Hey! what’s the idea?” said the man. The bartender smiled “Well, you don’t have hiccups any more, do you?” “I never did,” the man replied. “I wanted something to cure my wife, she’s out in the car.” Do you come to conclusions before the problem has been laid out before you? Slow yourself down; you’ll be more likely to respond appropriately.

(2) Timing. If the parent doesn’t get the injured child to the hospital quickly enough, her life might be lost; and if you don’t apologize when you’ve wronged someone, the relationship could be lost. When you act, is as important as taking the right action. Also knowing when not to act. Lady Dorothy Nevill observed: “The art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

(3) Temperature. As tempers flare, we drop bombs when a slingshot would do. In general: (a) if the reaction is worse than the action, the problem usually increases; (b) if the reaction is less than the action, the problem usually decreases. So, be more gentle !



HELPING “HURTING PEOPLE”

A word of encouragement does wonders.   -Proverbs 12:25 TLB

Ask yourself, “Do I hurt people, and am I easily hurt by them?” Then consider these truths:

(1) Hurting people hurt other people. The German poet Hermann Hesse wrote: “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” Hurting people lash out in response to what’s happening inside them. They feel or believe something negative’ within themselves. Try to remember that.

  (2) Hurting people are more often hurt by people, Let’s say you’ve a splinter in your finger and it becomes infected. Then someone brushes against it. You howl with pain, “You hurt me !” No, the real problem is the splinter you neglected to address. Huffing people overreact, overexaggerate, and overprotect. They also overinfluence. Ask any counselor who’s dealt with a hurting couple. Emotionally one spouse “throws up,” then the other “cleans up.” Usually the individual with the most pain does the most damage.

(3) Quick fixes don’t work. The kindest thing you can do for hurting people is ask them, “Are you prepared to work through the issues and get beyond your pain?” When a New England pipe cleaning company was working under the streets to clean out a sewer line, they found: sixty-one diamond rings, vintage coins and silverware. It was an unpleasant job—but they were allowed to keep the valuables they discovered in the process! Now, you may have to do some digging and deal with some pretty nasty stuff, but in the process you may discover some treasures you didn’t know existed, and at the end of all your hard work, learn to develop healthy relationships.




 

Leave a Reply