Manipulation and deception might get you or me what we want when we want it, but at the high cost of relationships with our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and others.
Reading through the Bible, I’m reminded how the patriarch Jacob became a deceiver by following the example and encouragement of both his father, Isaac (Genesis 26:7-9), and his mother, Rachel (Genesis 27:5-13).
He controlled his brother, Esau, to wrestle away his birthright (Genesis 25:27-34). He deceived his father, Isaac, to received the family blessing that was rightfully his brother’s (Genesis 27:1-36). Later, Jacob was manipulated by his father-in-law, Laban (Genesis 29:18-30), and then Jacob returned the favor to steal Laban’s wealth (Genesis 30:29-43) and, later, run away with his daughters and grandchildren (31:17-21). Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, carried on the family tradition of deception and manipulation by persuading Shechem, his father Hamor, and all the men of the city to be circumcised, only to kill them and steal all their possessions (Genesis 34:13-29).
What a messed up family! What Jacob accomplished by control led to complete chaos in all of his relationships.
Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me twice now. He took my birthright, and look, now he has taken my blessing” (Genesis 27:36).
Not until Jacob wrestled with God Himself (Genesis 34:24-32) did he finally yield his life and begin walking, or limping, with the Lord faithfully.
“Jacob then named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face,” he said, “and I have been delivered.” The sun shone on him as he passed by — limping because of his hip.” (Genesis 34:31-32)
Jacob was changed in character and in name, to Israel. Trust is not just a spiritual thing with God; it’s relational in how we demonstrate the work of His Spirit as we interact others.
This pattern of manipulation and deception that we see in Jacob’s life and family is still alive and well in our world of relationships today. Many are leaving a dynasty of deception and disaster. How often do we hear these familiar phrases? The end justifies the means. Do whatever it takes. God helps those who help themselves. Look out for yourself, #1.
In contrast to the selfish ambition and vain conceit of controlling others, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23) as we wait on the Lord and trust His goodness.
There are certainly times that I’m selfish. Times that I want my way. Occasions when I get frustrated by others. Situations where I would rather take control rather than wait on God. Or trust Him. But, if I’m actively reading God’s word, surrendering my will to His, praying rather than manipulating, submitting to His Spirit, God will do not only what is right, but so much better and cleaner than the mess I would make (and have made).
Follow me… as I follow Jesus Christ.