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Last week I worked on a bank statement and was off by $167.31. After checking the math in the checkbook and then my math in the reconciliation, I was still stumped, so I stepped away. Yesterday I picked it back up and almost instantly I saw the problem – I had checked it off on the statement as an online payment, but had not recorded it in the checkbook. There is was as plain as day… $167.31. Seeing the solution clearly, especially after feeling the frustration of not finding resolution – that’s a great feeling!
Why did I miss it last week? My focus was on the math, and the math was correct. My perspective was off. The same can be true in ministry. When we are frustrated because we don’t see resolution, it could be that we need to step back for a bit. Let go of that attempt – it’s not working. Pull away for awhile. Ask God for discernment, talk it out with someone, or even do something else to find distraction. Then come back and try another angle.
In addition, when it comes to spiritual matters (in ministry or the marketplace) we often look at life through our natural mind. Sometimes getting a spiritual mindset will help us find the answer we need. Some solutions are found when we pray in the spirit. Breakthroughs happen when we take the time to fast and pray. Change happens when we rise up in our spiritual authority and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We have to remember we are spirit beings living in a natural world. It’s a different perspective!
So if you feel like you are stuck in place or hitting your head up against a wall, step away and get a different perspective. God is faithful and He will always make a way through!
Before I tell you how people try to manipulate God, I feel it’s only fair to warn you:
- It won’t work. Only dependent, trusting, and obedient faith pleases and moves God. God is not obligated to perform His Word to a manipulator.
- Manipulation will only hurt us in the end. Power can make us feel alive with a sense of accomplishment, but the real power comes from knowing God in surrendered relationship.
- God knows our life comes from Him.
- God knows manipulation is a form of control and pride. He knows when we are striving to make it on our own. He’s been dealing with the fallen human race for thousands of years.
- We may not be aware we are acting in a manipulative way. We may consider ourselves to be in real faith due to our performance of God’s Word.
With that in mind, let me write about what we shouldn’t do, to attempt to manipulate God. My purpose is to uncover manipulation and encourage surrender.
To manipulate is to negotiate, control, or influence something or someone cleverly, skillfully, or deviously for one’s own advantage.
Do we want things from God that will benefit us? Of course! God made us to benefit from knowing Him. He loves to benefit us! How does God benefit us?
- Something in our hearts is missing without knowing God in an intimate relationship. When we experience Him, then we an awakening, “I was lost! Now I’m found!”
- In God, is everything we need for life and living. There’s salvation and wholeness. There’s restoration and transformation. There is joy, peace, and love. There is companionship and fellowship. There is healing, prosperity, and deliverance, and so much more!
- In God, we find purpose and calling. We also find equipping and empowering.
If you find that you have been guilty of manipulation or control, you are not alone. Control is the essence of the fallen nature of the human race. Control is something everyone has experienced at one point or another, whether it has been straightforward or passive aggressive. Here are ten ways manipulation operates:
- Performance to earn. We live in a world where we earn our paychecks and our promotions. We can’t imagine that we can do good works and earn God’s favor.
- Performance to please. We live in a world where if I give you what you want, then you give me what I want. It doesn’t work with God.
- Performance to trick. Why do we think we can fool God? He knows everything.
- Performances for appearances. If I help God or His church look good, then God will bless me.
- If God wants us happy, then He will give in.
- If God wants to get on our good side, then He needs to give in.
- Withdrawal, denial of affection, neglect. If God wants the person’s relationship, service, or giving, then God needs to give in or get the silent treatment.
- Nagging and whining. These are attempts to wear God out and get Him to give in. It can work with people, but it can’t work with God.
- Debating using intellect and reason. Some even use God’s Word to debate God in order to put Him in a corner and hold Him to His promises.
- Blame Shifting. Blaming God for not getting what is needed. Shaming Him into action.
Real Faith is the only Real Way to Receive from God
- Learn the joy of surrender. Know God will not manipulate you. We can’t trust Him if we don’t experience His love. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
- Be confident that God wants to act on His pure love and His pure Word. Then invite Him to have His way.
- Read the Bible and find out how God does things and line yourself accordingly. In the position of a surrendered one, believe His Word, receive the Word, speak the Word and do the Word.
- Instead of performing, try obeying. The difference is that one is self-sufficient, and the other is response to God’s-sufficiency. Another way to say is to stop trying and start trusting, then act on that trust. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
In conclusion, I encourage you to read the stories in both testaments of people who received from God, and take notice of their surrendered obedience. I suggest you read about Naaman in 2 Kings 5, Abraham in Genesis 22, Moses’ mother in Exodus 2, the Israelites in Joshua 6, Peter in Acts 10, and Paul in Acts 28. These are just a few.
If you can see the areas you are attempting to control, I encourage you to turn them over to Jesus. Sometimes the things we care about the most are things we put the tightest grip on; however, God is worthy of caring for the things we care the most about. He is trustworthy. He is sufficient. And He loves us more than we can comprehend.
What are we doing with our strength and influence? In the last blog, Part 1, I wrote on women’s faith in God, as well as an introduction to how a wife can use her powers for good. In the last entry I wrote how a wife could choose to step out of faith and use her powers to manipulate and control, even rebel and oppose her husband. God wants His people to shine in strength. He also wants us to have discernment on how to use the powers He has given to us, including in a marriage relationship.
Text: I Peter 3:1-7
Peter writes on the role of the wife, sharing how to add her power to a marriage in humility. Any person on any team should understand the importance of teamwork, as well as how to support leadership. In a marriage, principles of teamwork and leadership also apply.
Teams are powerful when they work together. To work together, God put two leaders in the home, giving the husband leadership over the wife. In chapter 3, Peter writes about the husband’s authority in the marriage. Submission is when one person yields to the other person.
In the Bible we all are told to submit to the Lord, yielding to His authority instead of living self-sufficiently in our own strength. This is a powerful spiritual principle, one of leaning on God in faith rather than standing in our own strength. The idea of yielding is also taught in the Bible when it tells us to submit to one another. Also where it admonishes us to yield to the authority of a parent, of an employer, of a political leader. The yielded heart is the heart that honors God’s role as Lord, also seen in respect for human authority. In this case, it is the husband, and Peter is speaking on how a woman can use her strength to influence her husband.
“when they observe your chaste (pure) conduct accompanied by fear (respect, honor).”
Peter teaches that the way to effectively influence a husband is through respecting him. We all want to be respected, or shown value, for who we really are. A wife wants respect, too. When we love one another, we show honor to one another, whatever our roles. When a wife honors her husband, he knows she values him and the responsibility he carries as her leader.
To adorn means “to enhance, to make pleasing or impressive, to make more attractive, to add beauty to.” Peter encourages the woman not to focus on the outward methods of adornment, but on a deeper level of impression.
“rather let it be the hidden (inner) person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle (meek) and quiet (harmonious) spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
I love this verse because it tells me something about myself that God would consider to be precious – not only in a marriage relationship, but in my relationship with Him. Whether man or woman, we know faith is what pleases God, and faith is more than believing; faith is that precious quality of a heart that has turned from self-sufficiency to that discovery of love, the decision to abandon self and trust completely, to surrender stand-alone “me” in order to have I-want-union-with-you “us.” I let go of control, and I let God have the reigns of my heart. My yielded heart for God shows up in my yielded heart to yield to others, and that yielded heart for my husband, my partner in life and for life.
When my husband sees how much I love him, that I am willing to take my strength and bring it under his strength, it is pleasing. This is what meekness is – controlled strength. This word has been translated “gentle” in verse 4, also meaning “humble.” Some women are very quiet and soft in their personality, some are not, but this verse is not about personality; it is about choice on what to do with strength. This is another verse I love:
James 4:6 “God resists the proud (or self-sufficient), but gives grace (His limitless strength) to the humble (yielded).”
The word “quiet” in verse 4 is a Greek word that describes “harmonious” or the one that works together with another in unity. It could also be translated “peaceable.” Peter didn’t mean to say that a woman, a precious child of God, is to be silent. She has a voice. It can be a beautiful, strong voice. Peter meant that her spirit, or her demeanor, of a willingness to work together, is precious. This definition pairs well with meekness.
Verses 5 and 6
Peter refers to God’s Hebrew women in Scripture as examples. He mentions their trust in God, and from that trust, examples like Sarah who obeyed her husband. The word obey isn’t to mean the woman is a child. It means to hear the leading, to respond to the leading with humility, and to act in compliance with the leading. Sarah called Abraham, “lord” or “leader.” Peter encouraged wives to do good and not be afraid or intimidated. Be strong. It takes strength to honor a leader of any kind. Could the wife decide to make it on her own and do her own thing, even in a marriage? Of course – she’s intelligent, resourceful, and strong – made in the image of her Father God. Instead of choosing to use her strength to work independently of her husband, The Good Wife chooses to yield her strength to her husband.
We have focused on control issues for the wife. In verse 7 Peter address the control issues of a husband. Peter says to give honor to the wife, or respect, for being the weaker vessel. While most women, not all, have a weaker physical ability than men, not all, this is not the weakness Peter is referring to. I’ve heard some describe women as weak because of the general nurturing nature of women, not all, but I disagree. The same woman who will show sensitivity is the same woman who you will not want to cross if you threaten the ones she cares for. This Greek word for weaker is simply describing a subordinate. Honor her has the one who is following your lead in your home.
Peter says to honor her as an heir together of the grace of life. The Greek word for heir in verse 7 denotes a “joint-heir” who possesses his or her “lot” or “portion” as a participant with another. This is so awesome for marriages – together receiving what God has for them.
If the husband does not recognize and honor his wife as a joint-participant, his prayers could be hindered. Can prayers be hindered? As pastors, we sometimes witness men and women who genuinely ask God for His help, but we also see the same people living in disobedience and neglecting their kingdom responsibilities. We do believe faith, which surrenders in obedience, will receive; but we also believe disobedience and neglect can hinder a person from receiving.
A husband may not fulfill his destiny if he does not respect the person he is jointly participating with, if he does not honor or include her strength.
How to Submit Your Strength
The following are principles for yielding that apply to a wife, or to anyone who has a leader in life – an employer, a pastor, a parent, or other leader.
- First, yield to God. We can’t do anything good apart from Him.
- If yielding comes as a challenge, I would first suggest you go to the Lord and let Him reveal any hurt or loss that you haven’t surrendered to God. If so, allow Him to fill you up and love that out of you. Receiving His healing and wholeness. It’s okay if the restoration is progressive.
- Grow in spiritual strength and overcome desires of the soul to have their way.
- Make the decision to yield your strength, whether you feel like it or not. It is a choice.
- Lean on the Holy Spirit to develop meekness.
I pray you find the joy in being on a marriage team where you know fulfillment of purpose as a couple, ruling and reigning in life together!
This series on “The Good Wife” is a group of writings God is leading me to share with married women who desire to be a blessing to their husband. I started by writing on “The Good Wife Will Reign in Life” and I shared about God’s plan for the woman to walk in His authority. Following that entry, I wrote “Leading in Life Together” and I shared about how the married couple is intended to share their strengths and work as a team, with the husband as the leader and the wife as the assistant leader. In this entry, I want to discuss the choices on how a woman uses her strength. She can use her strength to build her home or to tear it down. She can use her strength to empower her husband or to emasculate him. I will start by looking at the improper use of strength in Part 1 and end with the proper use of strength in Part 2.
Women have tremendous influence, especially in a marriage relationship. That influence can be positive when strength is used to empower the marriage and the leader of the home. That influence can also be misused when it’s used improperly as a tool to find control over a leader. The Good Wife decides to use her powers for good, not for evil.
The improper use of strength can be seen in manipulation. Manipulation is control. Manipulation is what we do to turn a situation in our favor. Wives can manipulate their husband, and husbands can manipulate their wife; however for the focus of this blog, I want to focus on us wives as the subordinate in the marriage relationship.
Manipulation can be straightforward or manipulation can be passively aggressive, but from the position of a subordinate, whether in marriage, in family, in business, in ministry, or any other situation, manipulation is a form of rebellion against authority. There’s a joke about the woman who wants her husband to be the head of their home, as long as she can be the neck – that would describe the manipulative wife.
5 Ways a Wife Could Manipulate her Husband
Manipulation finds out what the person wants, and then takes it away until it has what it wants in return. The following are five behaviors that reveal how a wife could use her influence to manipulate her husband instead of empower his leadership. If you are reading and find some truth uncovered, know God is on your side. He is not here to condemn or tear down; God is here to save and build up!
#1 Manipulation Through Emotions
What does a husband want? Most men want their wives to be happy. Manipulation could use emotions to turn the heart of a man.
Wives who manipulate are women who know how to use their emotions to control the response and actions of their husbands. They know their man will do anything to make them happy, so they demonstrate emotional distress until they get what they want. It’s not a statement I care for, but the saying goes, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” One emotion used is sadness, expressed through crying or sobbing. Another is anger expressed through shouting or throwing a fit. Whatever the emotional expression, the motive is the same: control.
Other forms of emotional manipulation include the attempts to make their partner pick up emotional baggage – blaming him, shaming him, or intimidating him. She may use accusations of betraying trust, causing him to feel he must continually earn her trust. She often plays the victim. She may often criticize him, keeping him under condemnation, a broken man with little confidence. Some men even go into depression. She wants him weaker so he becomes subservient and she can dominate. She may use humiliation, an uncomfortable place to be, causing him to want to avoid her power to shame him. When she gets want she wants, she will praise him for being a good husband, someone who supports her, but in reality, he just got played.
The woman may be in actual emotional turmoil, or they may be faking it – either way, decisions made on emotion are not good decisions. We are to be led by the Holy Spirit, making decisions based on what we know is right, not our feelings, which often change from day to day. If emotions are the engine instead of the caboose, it will be very difficult to even hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, let alone follow that voice.
The spiritually mature woman, “The Good Wife,” is the wife who refuses to lower herself to the level of emotional manipulation to altar or take away from the leading of her husband. She wants her husband to follow after God. She feels, but her feelings do not lead her and she certainly does not use her emotions to turn the heart of the leader.
#2 Manipulation Through Whining or Nagging
What does he want? He may want peace. Manipulation will take away peace through whining and nagging.
There are several verses in the Bible book of Proverbs about the nagging wife. Make no mistake about it- a nagging wife has one goal – to get her way. She will whine or nag a man until he gives in to her. Whining and nagging are often very effective methods of torture and control. See Proverbs 21:9,19; 27:15; 25:14; 19:13
For some women, they don’t have an inner peace themselves. Even when they know they are living beneath their potential to rise up, the inner strife keeps pulling them down to a low level of manipulation. Peace is only rewarded when demands are met.
#3 Manipulation through Intellect
What does he want? Husbands often want someone on their side. Manipulation will be quarrelsome, where the wife becomes the man’s opponent rather than a team player.
Women, like men, have been given intellect. Both can be smart in battles of debate, precise with timing, and comprehensive in strategy. Both can learn their partner well, knowing how to push buttons and pull triggers. The wife makes a formidable opponent.
Some women manipulate by quarreling, with the aim of winning arguments or with the goal of simply bringing the man to mental exhaustion. If what he wants is agreement, perhaps he will give in if he has to do something before the strife of an argument will stop.
“The Good Wife” is not a silent partner. She will bring her smarts to the table, offer her advice, share her experience, and express her perspective. She contributes to the partnership. If and when there are disagreements, in the end, she needs to trust her husband to look to God and get the answer. If the husband is not looking to God, God will still honor the wife for her yielded heart. God is the higher authority, and He is able to turn things around for the good.
#4 Manipulation will withdrawal.
What does he want? Men often want companionship. Manipulation takes away togetherness through withdrawal.
When a man loves his wife and desires her companionship, the cold shoulder is a powerful weapon for a wife to have in her manipulation arsenal. The manipulated may weigh his need of having his wife’s help or her company and compromise what he believes to be right. Some withdrawal to another room and give the coach to the husband. Some will even withdrawal by separating, temporarily staying in a hotel, with a relative, or a friend.
Withdrawal can also be seen in neglect. Instead of the wife being there to help with responsibilities, she neglects them. Whatever help she is in the relationship, she leaves things undone. She wants him to realize he doesn’t enjoy life without her in it, doing her part, so she doesn’t do her part.
Withdrawal can also be felt when she isn’t around. There isn’t anything wrong with a wife having time alone or time with friends. There isn’t anything wrong with a wife having interests or hobbies apart from her husband. However, it is wrong, when she is using distractions to make the husband miss her in order to manipulate him.
“The Good Wife” is the wife who wants the right thing, and will not use the quiet treatment or domestic withdrawal to wrongly influence her husband. Instead, she will trust him and empower him to take the lead.
#5 Manipulation will deny sexual relations.
What does he want? The husband wants physical intimacy. Manipulation takes away opportunity for sexual activity.
Similar to withdrawal of attention, we can’t ignore the obvious manipulation of withholding or giving sexual pleasure. Both men and women have been given a sexual appetite, an appetite meant to draw a husband and wife together, not separate or divide. We know our husbands want our intimacy, but that desire should never be used as a card to play in order to get something in exchange. There could be more than one reason why a spouse would deny the other of sex, but when the reason is to get something from it, it is manipulation.
“The Good Wife” will not deny her husband. When a relationship is healthy, sex is not only satisfying a craving; it is a genuine desire to be together with intimacy out of love.
Manipulation doesn’t just take something away that the other person wants. Manipulation may give something in order to put the husband in a favorable condition to get a desired result. Some self-centered husbands don’t mind compromising when they are on the receiving end of manipulation. They enjoy the manipulation. However, the man who honors the Lord will stand true to his convictions. His love for God and His family will cause Him to do the right thing.
God wants us to enjoy life.
God wants us to accomplish great things in this life.
God wants the world to know Him through our life.
In order to enjoy His blessings and fulfill our potential, married persons are always building and maintaining themselves and their relationship. It’s a wonderful adventure of growth and joy.
I invite you to read Part 2, on how “The Good Wife” uses her powers for good by looking at what Peter has to say in I Peter 3.
“The reason I don’t agree with the Christian faith is because of the idea that the wife has to submit to the husband simply based on gender.” Someone made this honest statement to me at a community event, and from this moment forward, I have been aware of a growing rejection of the Gospel by women who feel the Bible discriminates against the female gender.
Today I want to bring some clarity to God’s idea of how He purposes for a husband and wife to function as a married couple. An excellent place to start is by looking in the beginning, when God first revealed His plan for the family.
Genesis 1:26-28 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
We see from the beginning of the Bible that both men and women are created in God’s image and likeness. We are spirit beings, children of God. This is who we are. We also see both men and women were blessed by God, both were instructed to multiply, both were given a joint commission to take authority in the earth. This is what we are to do… together. Here is another Scripture from the beginning of the Bible:
Genesis 2:18 18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
This verse was written after God instructed Adam to name the animals, and the animals were male and female. First, the animals were not alone in their species. Second, they were made to reproduce after their kind. God wanted the human race to enjoy life together and He wanted us to have families, so it wasn’t good that Adam, a male, did not have a female counterpart.
I must take a moment here to briefly address single women. If you are single, you are complete in a relationship with God and you are still able to fulfill your purpose, whether or not you have children. Christ is your authority. Your relationship with God is not lacking if there is not a man in it. The same is true for a single man. Male or female, you are valuable just for being you.
The King James version of Genesis 2:18 uses “help meet” in the translation. The Hebrew word translated “help meet” or “helper” is ezer and it is only used in the Old Testament in the context of vitally important and powerful acts of rescue and support. It a person who is capable to come to the aid of another. The word is never used to show status or position as a subordinate. In fact, the word ezer is often used to describe God coming to the aid of His people. In Genesis 2:18 and 20, the word ezer is used with the Hebrew word kenedgo, translated “suitable for him.”
This is good news. The wife is a partner to the husband, someone he can reign in life together with. She is not someone the husband has to feel is a weight to him. She is not his ball and chain. Rather, she is a strong, capable person who is meant to know her God and do exploits. The born again wife is a spirit being, recreated to be like God. The spirit-filled woman is a person who has the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead residing and empowering her in life. She has the name of Jesus, to take authority over anything that is not in alignment with God’s kingdom purpose. She is a vessel of the Lord’s to anoint and flow through in supernatural manifestations to speak and act on God’s behalf. As an eternal child of God, she is not underneath her husband, she is not behind him; she is beside him, seated in heavenly places in Christ. She has been gifted with intellect, perspective, abilities, talents, resources, and strength. She is meant to grow spiritually so her mind, her emotions, and her body are under her authority in purity. This is God’s woman; this is a good wife.
Genesis 3:16 “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
On any team, there has to be one person as the head, otherwise there will be confusion and disorder. Anytime you get two people together, there will be some disagreement. Order in the family is for the purpose of harmony and unity. The head makes the final decisions and bears the most responsibility. The Bible teaches the husband is the head of the wife, Note the Bible does not say the wife is the tail. The wife walks in authority, authority that is submitted to her husband. The husband is like the president of the home, making the wife the vice president, and the two of them exercise their authority in love and humility, leading in life together. A good husband will recognize and honor the gifts and callings on his good wife. He will value her for who she is, what she does, and what God has given her.
The Good Wife will know her identity in Christ and honor her husband’s role as they lead in life together.