There is a type of cancer that affects men, women and children everywhere. It’s not the kind that manifests as a physical disease. It is the cancer of abuse, and it’s destroying relationships and families at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, abusive relationships are not limited to non-Christians. They have become commonplace among believers.
Domestic violence is usually the first thing that comes to mind when abuse is mentioned. Abuse, however, is not limited to a person hitting, pushing and punching another adult or a child. There are more subtle forms of abuse, which are just as damaging and can leave lasting effects that may take years to reverse. From verbal assaults to neglect, abuse is ugly. Regardless of the packaging in which it is wrapped, the results are the same—alienation, disappointment, pain and heartache. Abuse among Christians is not often talked about, but it destroys lives and must be dealt with.
Manipulation and Control: Tools of Abuse
Manipulation and control are two forms of abuse that are equally as bad as physical abuse. Trying to control others involves attempting to twist another person’s will so that it falls in line with what you want. Manipulating people for your own selfish desire is wrong and contradicts God’s commandment to love one another (John 15:12-17).
Unfortunately, some even use the Word of God in an attempt to control others. Any form of manipulation is abuse. God’s Word was not given as a method of control. It was given to teach you how to love others. Controlling people does not reflect the love of God, and contrary to what you may think, neither will it get you your desired results. It only causes strife and division while driving your loved ones further away from you. It won’t be long before their trust in you has dwindled because they can’t locate your true motives—love or selfishness.
Men who feel the need to control others suffer from insecurity. They may not realize it, but their actions are a result of fear. The fear of losing control is evident by pride and an unwillingness to submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
To grow into a man of love, you must make the Word of God the final authority in your life. In doing so, you will see that the only One Who should be in control is the Holy Spirit.
The Silent Stranger
Many hard-working men, though physically present in their households, are spiritually absent from their families’ lives. Their relationships with their wives and children are almost non-existent even though they see each other every day. Neglect can be just as bad as physical abuse because it leaves an emotional void in the lives of family members who then try to fill the void through other people, things, habits and activities.
Wives may seek the companionship of another man or begin looking to friends and family members to compensate for the lack of affection and attention they feel. Children get the worst end of the relationship as they grow up emotionally needy. This also sets the stage for them to become involved in disastrous relationships as they get older.
Some men lose focus of their responsibility as the heads of their households and allow their careers to take over their lives. They become “married” to their jobs while their families take a backseat. Consequently, the love and affection their families need falls by the wayside. Such behavior is an open door for the enemy to wreak havoc.
It is not uncommon for men to believe that because they are the primary breadwinners in their households, their families should be happy. They fail to understand that being the provider is their responsibility—it’s not a favor they do for their wives and children. Holding down a steady job does not automatically make a man a good husband and father.
While a man is supposed to provide for his family’s material needs, he is also supposed to be a reflection of God’s love. That means showering them with love and attention so they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are loved. It also means carving time out of your busy schedule to cultivate a relationship with each family member. No one said it was an easy job, but if you “signed up” for marriage and fatherhood, it’s one of your God-ordained responsibilities.
A Father’s Love
If you realize that you have been guilty of abuse in any form, begin to tap into God’s restorative power. Talk to your family and ask them to let you know their feelings about your behavior. It’s important that they are allowed to say how they feel without any fear of repercussions. These “talks” may be eye opening and difficult at first. They will, however, open the door to God’s healing power to restore wounded and broken relationships.
First John 4:19-21 clearly identifies how God wants you treat others. It says:
We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Walking in love is not an option; it is a command from heaven. Therefore, to abuse your wife and children in any way breaks God’s commandment to love. It’s time to honestly look at yourself and get real with God.
Walking in love is not easy, but God expects us to perfect our love. First Corinthians 13 lists some of the qualities that love encompasses. It is patient, kind, never envious or jealous, never boastful or haughty and is not conceited or prideful. Neither does it insist on having its own way, nor is it rude to others.
Many other characteristics of love are mentioned in this chapter, but the point is that love never works ill toward anyone. Your family relationships are precious, and you can’t afford to treat your loved ones in a way that demeans them or causes them pain.
Most men who are emotionally inaccessible or abusive to their families are this way because they did not receive love during their childhoods; as a result, they are filled with an emotional void. If this is true for you and you’re struggling with unresolved issues, ask God to bring you to a place of restoration.
Repent of the way you’ve treated your family and ask God for forgiveness, knowing that He is faithful and just to cleanse you of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Then repent to your loved ones and ask for their forgiveness.
Remember that the problem of abuse—regardless of the form it takes—is a result, or end product, of selfishness. The only way to defeat selfishness and the fear that comes with it is to begin cultivating and perfecting the love of God in your life. You do this by filling yourself with the Word; in other words, by renewing your mind.
It will take a conscious effort on your part to defeat your flesh and change your way of thinking. As you begin to develop in the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), instead of acting out on the different forms of abuse, you will begin to receive the love and respect that you crave from your family. Though the process may take time, expect God to heal past hurts as you conform to the image and character of Jesus. Love never fails!
Dr. Creflo A. Dollar
Dr. Creflo A. Dollar is the senior pastor of World Changers Church International, 25,000 member church in College Park, Georgia. He is committed to changing the world one person at a time, and his award-winning "Changing Your World" television broadcast reaches nearly one billion homes worldwide. Visit www.CrefloDollarMinistries.org to learn more.
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