Not long ago, I once again got caught in attempts to control the behavior of others.
These individuals who claim to be Christians acted in unChristlike ways. This affected other people and me.
When I confronted them on their behavior and urged them to stop—spoke the truth in love—they quickly moved into denial and even seemed delusional.
Yes, the pressure of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma played a part. I wanted them to know that God gives grace to do the right thing even when life presses and stresses.
They refused to receive that grace.
Then I tried to stress this point: once we do the wrong thing, we can receive grace to admit it. They declined again.
In the midst of the situation, this truth came to me: You can speak truth to those who believe lies and act on them, but you cannot force them to believe truth or do the right thing.
God presented this revelation to me repeatedly in relationships over the years. Once again in this latest situation, he proved it to me. He showed me I cannot control the behavior of others, but I can choose my reactions to it.
So I let go of my demands that they receive truth and determined to love them where they were at.
A while ago, I heard a teaching from a man who said, “God is in charge, but He’s not in control.”
I realized because of free will, God allows people to have the reins in their lives. He does not force them to do the right thing. Instead He invites them–as Jesus invited the rich man to sell what he had and give to the poor. (See John 19:21)
As I contemplated God being in control, another truth came to mind: I can say of my own life, “God, I want You to be in control. I surrender to You.” God is in control when I invite Him and allow Him to be. A key factor is to stop trying to take the control back from Him.
I did that with these people in my life who chose a wrong path for a time—who chose not to let God guide them. So my response to them not letting God be in control was to try to control. My words didn’t change their wrong decisions, but I could ask God to be in control of my response and pray for God to help them draw closer to Him, so they could make better choices in the future.
God’s righteous response for me centered on mercy, love, and grace. I realize I started to slip into resentment and withdrawal of love—especially when I faced rejection of the truth and wisdom I spoke. One indicator of resentment revealed itself as I told others about their offenses.
I see when I try to control others, I’m not letting God be in control of me. Fear often drives this compulsion to control.
I hold to the promise in Psalm 34:4: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.”
These people chose to behave the way they did because of their fears, and I chose to attempt to control because of mine.
Today I pray I will allow God to be in control of my life and that I’ll stop trying to play God in other people’s lives.
Thank You, Lord, for Your patience as I continue to learn lessons You’re trying to teach me. Thank You for the mercy You show to this slow learner.
“Control” by Tenth Avenue North