Love or manipulation?

Posted on October 27, 2017 · Posted in Sanctification

If you love biblically, then your love for others will not be diminished by their failures. When love is all about you, bad things happen. Love must be defined by God, specifically by the work of his son, Jesus. The Holy Spirit tells us that we know what love is by how Jesus loved (1 John 3:16). By looking at Christ we see that love is other-centered, God-centered, not me-centered. This takes some radical rethinking. Love is not about what makes you feel good or happy. Love is dying to your wants, your desires, your dreams. Only by loving Jesus first can anyone experience this sort of love.

When love is focused on what you want, disappointment is certain to follow. There are at least two reasons for this.

The first is that other people cannot possibly provide what is needed for your happiness. At some point others will fail you. They will sin against you. They will disappoint you. No person can provide you with what only God can give.

The second reason is that your idea of what will please you is tainted by sin. So your efforts to love often turn into bitterness. Your desire for others to be pleased with your “love” for them is really just manipulation. Your unmet expectations then become opportunities for bitterness!

But love that is focused on bringing honor to God will never disappoint. It will never manipulate. For example, your spouse responds to your kindness with indifference. Does this response negate your act of love? Does it make you angry and leave you questioning why you even bothered to be kind? If it did then your action wasn’t really love. It was an attempt to make your spouse feel good about you. You were not loving, you were manipulating!

However, if you know your actions were to done to bring honor to God, you don’t have to be dominated by hurt. Rather you can be motivated by compassion. You can return good for evil and show that your love is not motivated by self-pleasure but by true commitment to God.

Loving biblically is a tremendous blessing of God and will bring stability to your life and the lives of those around you.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.