Nowadays we hear and read pseudo-news which are spread through social media, that is hoax. Many people are cheated and their emotion are involved so they spread the issues too, even blow it up and mislead more people than before. In the ministry we also discover much more falsehood or manipulative even hypocritical ministry that makes deviation of church members’ faith and spiritual growth.
In this short article we will discover from the Bible some forms of manipulative ministry that getting God’s punishment. We will also discover how the Holy Spirit works in the life of the believers and make someone’s ministry effective without manipulation.
The term “manipulate” means “influencing or attempting to influence the behavior or emotions of others for one’s own purposes.” The effort of those influencing use ways which break the norms and ethics and tends to be negative ones. We will discover some examples of manipulative living and ministry from the Bible: sacrificing without obedience, bones covered by tombstones.
Sacrificing without Obedience – The prophets in the old testaments delivered warnings to all believers, which on that period are regularly giving burnt offerings. On the contrary, no one knows the first thing about God, they even show no loyalty and obedience. Hosea says that God “…desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offering.” (Hosea 6:6 – KJV). Meaning, burnt offerings are just a formality to be seen by others, not based on Love on God. This is a manipulative living, full of falsity. The thing is, God sees deep inside your heart, if you truly love Him, then your offerings will be pleased.
There’s another warning from Isaiah, “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:5-6 – NIV). Being God’s servant isn’t only vertically (pray and fast), but also horizontally (love on others). If not, then it’s a manipulative living.
Bone Covered with Headstone – During His ministry, Jesus gives the same warning to the believer who beautifies the service only from the outside. Humans only see with their eyes, but God sees the heart. Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”(Matthew 23:27 – NIV)
Isn’t it the same thing often happens these days? On social media, people are sharing lots of words of God and testimonies, but they’re not reflecting it in their life with their spouse or family, they live without love and loyalty. Even they do plenty of ministries at church but shows no mercy at their workplace. Employees are just pawns to gain the company’s profit. When becoming an official, they seem like a generous person, doing charities and share their fortunes, but it all came from corruption. Same like when a servant of God do amazing prophecies and divine healing, but apparently, the person who gave the testimony was hired.
Effective Ministry without Manipulation
Bible state the existence of ministries without manipulative, effective ministries full of Holy Spirit, which are: the occurrence of miracles and miraculous signs, repentance, and integrity. The word “effective” means “1. Have effects (consequences, impacts, impressions); 2. Healing (refer to medicine); 3. Bring results; succeed (action, effort); 4. Come into play (refer to the law, constitution)”. So, effective ministry means impactful and be blessings to others.
Miracles and Miraculous Signs – There are various miracles and miraculous signs written in the Bible, which are the extraordinary work of God. He divided the Red Sea in two, provided manna at the desert for Israelites, water flows out of the rock, Naaman recovered from leprosy, etc, all of these are the uncontested works of God. For one person is given through the Spirit the gifts of healing and to another performance of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:9-10 – NET). The lame walk, the blind see, the dead are raised, all are works of the Spirit. We have to believe that miracles and healings are still happening until now because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8 – NET). We got to believe and confess that the Spirit is indeed working and reveal His power within us.
True Repentance – People who are touched by the Holy Spirit will experience true repentance. There’re eunuchs from Ethiopia who repent through effective ministry from Philip. Cornelius who repent with his whole family through Paul and Silas’s ministry. True repentance (not manipulative nor pretending), seen from the existence of transformation or changes: selfish to selfless, full of desires to full of the fruit of the Spirit. That transformation isn’t temporary but permanently, even growing in a better direction.
Integrity – People who served led by the Holy Spirit have great integrity. People with integrity perform harmony between what is said and what is done, between what is believed and what is experienced. When we’re weak, just say “I’m weak” and we need others to pray and strengthen us. We don’t have to keep living manipulative as if our faith is perfect: never fail, always strong, etc. It will be much better if we admit and ask God to restore us. Precisely by recognizing our imperfection, God will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 – NIV). If we say in a fellowship or service that we love God and others, then let us no love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18 – NIV).