Read Matthew 14:1-12.
"Prompted by her mother, she said, 'Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.'" NIV
I don't know exactly the reason this passage is in the Bible other than a historical account of what happened to John the Baptist. However, whenever I read it, I focus in more on Herodias and what I should learn from her actions.
Women instinctually have a manipulative gene in their DNA. Blame it on Eve if you want, but we can all be very good at manipulating a situation for our intended outcome. Whether manipulation in and of itself is a sin is a dicussion to be had. But suffice it to say, whether done above board or not, is it not a form of deception and selfishness?
And then there are the Herodiases of life. She's the most dispicable manipulator because she used her daughter. She sends her in to entice Herod with her sexuality and to get him to give an open-ended promise. When she asks for John the Baptist's head, he feels he is held by his oath and those who witnessed it to give her what she asked. What kind of mother expects her daughter to bring a severed head to her on a platter? (Now I will not address Herod's ethics or leadership skills; that's another discussion.)
Now, I don't know anyone that goes to this extreme, although I know there are mothers and fathers who have sold their children into prostitution to make money for the family. But for the most part, our manipulations are not as drastic but still can cause a lot of damage to our relationships with others and with our Lord. The deceitfulness that can be used to manipulate destroys our integrity with others while the selfishness of "getting our way by any means" is not a Christ-like characteristic. Christ never manipulated. He encouraged and guided, but not for His own benefit. His motivation was always for other people's good.
This is once again a moment to fight the sinful nature of selfishness and think about others' needs without succombing to the subversive attitudes and actions of manipulation. Whether in little issues or in big ones, our thoughts should be for others before ourselves.
Lord, you know my heart. I want to think of others before myself. Help me to not manipulate, but to be honest and forthright in all I do. Teach me to love better.
- Think through people in the Old and New Testament. Who were some of the manipulators? Compare and contrast their motivations and the outcome of their situations.
- Read Galatians 2:20. How can this verse and the selfishness of manipulation co-exist?
- Do you have trouble with manipulating people? Do you believe it is destructive or not? If yes, what are some steps to take to stop this habit? Who can you be accountable to who will help you stop?
- Is there a situation that you are manipulating? Is there someone you need to apologize to for using them to get what you want?