The other day a beggar came up to my car to ask for food. This beggar put on a sad face and rubbed his stomach indicating he was hungry. After saying no to him, I watched him. He went back to his place, sat down, continued eating his sandwiches and drinking his coke. He wasn’t hungry. He was trying to emotionally manipulate me.
I don’t like it when people try to manipulate me. I don’t think anybody likes it. I suspect God doesn’t like it either. In Jesus’ second temptation (Mat 4:5-7), the devil takes him up the top of the temple and instructs Jesus to throw himself down and show to everybody how he really is God’s son. The devil quotes scripture – God will look after you! His angels will protect you! There is no danger.
What the devil was doing was trying to get Jesus to manipulate God. If you do this, then God will have to do that! The devil even uses scripture to back it up. See, the bible says that God has to do this.
Of course, God doesn’t have to do anything. God will act according to his character and his character means that he isn’t going to be manipulated by human action. God loves to respond to people out of his love. He is a loving father. But he isn’t going to be manipulated. Loving fathers aren’t manipulated into letting their children do something that is really wrong for their lives.
Jesus responds by showing a true understanding of scripture. You shall not put the Lord to the Test. You shall not try and manipulate God to get your own way.
It makes me wonder how I try and manipulate God. Do I try and makes deals with God? If I do this, then surely you will do that! Do I threaten to run away if things don’t go well for me?
How do I treat scriptures? Do I think of them as something that I can use to control or manipulate God? Or do I read them as something that shows God as a loving Father?