Controlled, Controlling, Or Concerned?

When you do not like a person's behavior, you can be controlled, controlling, or concerned about them. Since they are free to sin, do you ignore it and hope they choose better behavior? Maybe you get involved, tell them about their lousy behavior, and hope they change. Or, maybe you tell them about their behavior and start a process of making them change.

Are People Free to Be Themselves?

When you start learning about freedom, you may hear yourself say, "I am giving them freedom."

That may imply you need to understand how freedom works. You can only give someone freedom when it is actually in your control. For example, you can give someone a goal to achieve, unlock their cell door, or give them your automobile keys to use your car.

But that does not give them freedom in the way we discuss it. People are already free to act however they want. That is not something you give—it is something you accept as true.

You Probably Are Trying to Control Others

Are you mad at them without telling them? Are you discouraged, angry, depressed, or resentful when “They just don’t get it”? Do their poor values, bad decisions, or lousy thinking cause you to worry and fret? Perhaps you think, “They don’t realize how bad ‘that’ is and what ‘that’ does to them, the kids, and others (and ME)! Or “If they don’t get this corrected, [insert something terrible] will happen to them (and reflect on me)!”

That thinking denies the reality of their freedom to act badly, even sin, and experience the consequences. Of course, that is why you are trying to limit their freedom, so they will not experience the consequences. And, too often, you want to control other people’s lives for the wrong reason. If they change, you can relax and be happy – at least for a while.

“I’m only concerned. Isn’t that okay?”

If you answer yes, you may see sin in another person’s life. You know sin has consequences. If that is the case, you can hope, pray, encourage, and perhaps exhort and rebuke. Those things are important because you know God has asked you to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). It is not because you want to be the Jr. Holy Spirit in their life—you do it because it is pursuing their best.

Or, if your answer is no, it is more like you feel compelled to make them change. If true, that is where their behavior controls you, and now you live in the Left Circle. You may have the right motive, hoping they change so as not to experience the consequences of the sin, but you see this as your responsibility – not God’s and theirs – to change their behavior. Be careful and be objective. Your ME flashing will remove objectivity every time.

Satan and your sin nature can take the beauty of grace and freedom and distort it. He wants you controlled, controlling, or concerned. Please do not let that happen.

What If They Never Change?

Even if you recognize that you are controlling others and stop, you will quickly reboot your control when you ask this question.

But what if they never change? What if they keep their poor values and destructive behavior?

Satan uses that question to encourage worry and fear of the future. The more you worry and fear, controlling their behavior will appear to be the only option. And, what makes you control? You want the worry gone, peace, rest, and happiness, which causes your ME to flash!

God uses the question to drive you back to Him.

As you know, only God knows the future. Satan wants you to trust your lousy thinking and fear instead of trusting God and being driven by love (pursuing their best). But you want freedom from worry, so you control to change their behavior. However, that enslaves you. Only trusting God can free you from worry!

Consider This

Worry is not only unnecessary; it is also disrespectful and disobedient to God.

Accepting their freedom does not mean you give up on them changing! Freedom accepts reality – changing them is not your job. Whether they change or not, your job is simple: tell the truth, love them, and pursue their best. Change is their job and dependent upon God’s plan.

God is more concerned with teaching you patience or how to trust Him in those situations. Yes, God may use you as an instrument to help them change but do not confuse being the instrument with being the cause.

In times of trial, you can embrace the pain instead of running from it. Then, you will see what God wants to teach you through it! You are responsible for offering the truth and not nagging them about it. Truth can defend itself.

If you decide to control, beware; it will hurt your relationships. Control truly or artificially limits a person’s options, making it difficult for them to see or make choices.

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