One social media post urged readers to “Help others, even when you know they can’t help you back.” I don’t expect anyone to help me back when I help them …..but it does make me wonder when someone I’m helping thinks it’s okay to play me and other Christians for fools……. take and take and take, all the while lying and faking how well they are doing while betraying me and others behind our backs. There are so many other places we could be making a difference while such a person is sucking up resources, including valuable time, while even stealing and lying to everyone, using people of goodwill only for what can be gotten from them.
I recall hearing someone say we are not responsible for the actions of others, only to be faithful to do what God has called us to do. That is true in helping others, too. But one cannot continue to help when the response of the individual abuses the generosity and good faith of the giver, especially when it entails lying, deception, and stealing.
Sometimes God requires us to reject someone else’s view of “love” when it is abusive, perverse or manipulative… God does tell us to love others. However, sometimes one demonstrates that “love” for her means using people, which also includes blaming others to excuse one’s own bad conduct, to get what she wants. She feels loved and loves others as long as they give her what she wants. The best thing one can do in such circumstances is to challenge such a view of love and give her nothing else.
Love is not a commodity that can be bought, possessed, or stolen….It is only given, and to be real, must be freely given, not coerced or demanded. If it is abusive, perverse, or manipulative it is something else…..not love. Love is not self-seeking, but seeks the good of others. When one loves herself, which Jesus also called us to do, she does not allow others to use, abuse, or manipulate her, allowing them to take things that the giver herself is unwilling to otherwise freely give. It is especially egregious when the things being taken under deception are part of a community trust for the benefit of many people for whom the giver is a steward and the abusive or manipulative conduct is repeated again and again by such conscienceless self-loving takers.
“God so loved the world that he GAVE…….” When one’s view of “love” is so selfish that it takes and expects from others and puts the good of others at risk, it is time to challenge that view of love. Jesus said, “If you love me obey my commands.” He did not say, “If you love me hold your hands up and sing” or “If you love me use my name to get anything you want.” He also said, “Be wise like a serpent, and gentle like a dove.” I am still working on both of those, especially when they are called to be exercised TOGETHER!
Jesus rebuked Simon Peter, calling him “satan” for being used by the devil to try to dissuade Jesus from following through on his mission that included his own death. He told Simon Peter also that he knew he would betray him. Jesus rebuked Peter for defending him with a sword at his arrest. He confronted religious leaders for their hypocrisy and called them vipers and worse. He physically attacked the position of those opportunists who were taking advantage of God’s people, charging exorbitant prices for sacrificial animals in the Temple. He let a stupid, self-righteous money-loving young ruler go his own way rather than try to persuade him further to receive eternal life. He said that anyone who chose family (or their own misguided sense of priority or duty) over following him was not worthy of following him. He delayed several days rather than rush to the side of a dying friend to save him. Jesus’ definition of loving people often seemed less than loving to the people to which such things were addressed at the moment.
Some who refuse to hear the truth and change, who persist in their manipulative, self-loving, other-using behavior will find themselves increasingly challenged in their view of love and ultimately may well wind up only in the company of other users, being used themselves.