‘Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.’Romans 12:10 NLT
Manipulation is when we put our own goals first, and deceive others into serving them. It doesn’t have to be obvious. It’s when we treat each other as chess pieces, as part of a plan, as bit-parts in the film of our own life. Manipulation is something we can do even without being fully aware of it. When we do, though, we stop seeing each other as valuable. Romans 12, where we’ve taken today’s verse from, is all about seeing, and treating, each other right. God seems to think that we should put each other’s well-being above any schemes we have, even if we think those schemes are ‘for their “own good”’. Some examples? When we think, ‘Oh pants, I’ve done something wrong. Best own up to it, but I’ll play up the bewildered innocent card. I want this person to like me, after all…’ Or even when we ‘listen to God’ in a way that only hears things that we want to hear. Suddenly your prayer time for that girl or boy you like becomes a Divine Revelation that We Should Both Be Together, Because God Told Me. So. All of us can become masters of manipulation. But we’ll pay a high price if we do: love. If love wishes the other person’s best, even at the expense of ourselves, manipulation wants our own (or our plan’s) best, at the expense of others. It brings conflict, hostility, and resentment. So, the opposite of loving, then.