Samson’s wife wept before him and said, “You only hate me, and you do not love me; you have propounded a riddle to the sons of my people, and have not told it to me.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told it to my father or mother; so should I tell you?” (Judges 14:16)
Well, well, well. What do we have here? A bit of emotional manipulation? It’s certainly not the only instance in the Bible…and it’s prevalent in our everyday lives, too.
Samson, best known for his strength, made a deal with thirty Philistine men. He told them a riddle, and if they couldn’t answer it, they would each give Samson a linen garment and a change of clothes. If they could, it would be Samson’s responsibility to give the same to each of the thirty men.
The men couldn’t solve the riddle, but they had another plan. They threatened Samson’s wife so she would get the answer for them. She, in turn, emotionally blackmailed Samson, saying, “If you don’t do this for me, you must not love me.”
What? What does one thing have to do with another? And does it sound familiar?
“If you forget our anniversary (or anything else), you must not love me.”
“If you won’t have children (take a different job, let my mother move in with us, take a dream vacation), you must not love me.”
“If you don’t go to church with me, you must not love me.”
Not true. Our expectations of what someone else should or shouldn’t do for love isn’t the indication of whether or not someone actually loves us. We need to set our own definitions of love aside and love and respect others with an abundance that expects nothing but a growing love relationship as God provides and guides. And that leaves it wide open, because we really don’t know what God has planned. We don’t know what He’s doing in the other person’s life. We just don’t know it all no matter how much we think we do.
Even worse than playing the emotional blackmail game with people around us, usually those we say we love the most, we play it with God, too. Well, we don’t really play it with God, because He doesn’t play along. He knows the game better than we do, and He can smell it coming. He won’t touch it, because He knows it reeks of pride and manipulation.
“God must not love me, because if He did, I wouldn’t be going through this.”
“God must not love me, because if He did, He wouldn’t have left me alone.”
“God must not love me, because if He did, He would have worked this out already.”
We cannot define what God’s love is. Only God does that. We aren’t the ones who can put conditions on love. We abide in it and trust God for it. We live it out.
Whining doesn’t work with God. Pouting doesn’t work. Manipulation doesn’t work. Passive-aggressiveness doesn’t work. Do you want to know what actually does work?
Truthful love. God’s love.
Instead of playing games by our own rules, it’s time we get to know God’s rules a bit better. I’m not talking about getting legalistic. I’m talking about asking God to reveal the truth of His love to you. Let Him remind you of His if-then promises. Let Him remind you of the constancy and abundance of His love. Let Him remind you that love isn’t about getting your way; it’s about getting His.
Dear God, please reveal the truth of Your love to me. Show me the ways I’ve distorted it. I don’t want to manipulate the way I live. I want to reflect You in my authenticity. I want to not only know Your promises but live boldly in and through them. As much as I think I want my way at times, the truth is, I really want Your way more. I love You.