"Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. Mark 15:9-11
Emotional manipulation can be subtle or not so subtle. The Jewish leaders, in fear of losing their power, preyed on the fear of the crowd in losing their rebel leader Barabbas. In a mob-like environment the hearts of the masses were motivated by jealous religious leaders to free the guilty and punish the innocent. Yes, fear is the favorite method of those who are afraid of losing control over people and circumstances. Like a bully club, they use fear as an intimidation tool.
Beware of those who manipulate your emotional pain for their gain. Guilt is a ‘go to’ tactic used to get your attention and coerce you to make a foolish decision in the moment, forgetting the fall out of long term consequences. The pressure from peers needs to be filtered by your prayers. A friend’s agenda is probably not the Lord’s plan for your life. So, allow the Spirit to calm your emotions and give you His outlook. Holy Spirit persuasion trumps unholy spirit manipulation.
This is what the Lord says about Shemaiah the Nehelamite: "Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, even though I did not send him, and has persuaded you to trust in lies." Jeremiah 29:31
On the other hand, it is good to be persuaded by the Holy Spirit and those filled with the Spirit. Listen to saints who love the Lord and learn from them. Be influenced by individuals of integrity, whose only goal is for you to enjoy God’s game plan. So, be wise. Wait to validate a person’s reputation. Total trust too quickly can be manipulative on your part. For example, you may crave a friendship, so during your first visit, you immediately share a confidential issue expecting a reciprocal response. But, healthy expectations give emotional space. Godly persuasion is patient.
Finally, in the power of the Holy Spirit seek to persuade others of God’s love for them and of the judgment to come. The fear of the Lord compels us to urge the unsaved to fear God. The Lord is the beginning and end of wisdom. Jesus is King and Lord over all. His salvation is freedom from sin, self and Satan. God’s grace is good and life giving. Our Lord has risen from the grave. He is alive to live in and over all who call on His name in repentance and faith. We persuade, because someone persuaded us. Emotional manipulation is temporary, but spiritual persuasion is eternal!
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 2 Corinthians 5:11
Prayer: Heavenly Father, move my heart not to manipulate but trust, to persuade in the Spirit, not push in my power.
Related Readings: Luke 20:45-47; Acts 28:23; Romans 4:21; 2 Timothy 4:14-16; Colossians 2:8
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