Never use or manipulate people. Always be direct and straightforward

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From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 7 – Some more of the ways in which we must become faithful

Here is another vital principle. You have no right to use any other person. In all your dealings with others you must be open and transparent and pay for all services or goods that you need. If you are willing to reciprocate, then it’s alright to seek favours and help from others. But it’s only acceptable if it’s mutual. You must always return the favour later, or be sincerely willing to do so if needed. It is very wrong to see other people as “resources” to be made use of.

There are times when people have rung me up and I know immediately that they are only calling me because they want something. It’s not a real friendship. They are solely looking for favours, or the use of my time. But they don’t want to pay for it. Neither do they want to return the favour by doing anything for me.

I would be ashamed to ring people in that way, but many are not. They see it as fair game if they can get something from it. Resolve that you will not use other people and that any friendships you have are solely about friendship, not about getting favours on the cheap, or making use of other people in a covert or non-reciprocal way.

We must never manipulate others. We must always be straightforward and tell people our real aims and motives. Then they can decide for themselves whether to participate in something. Never trick people into doing things that you want them to do. The polite word for that is manipulation or control. A blunter word for it is ‘witchcraft’. That’s what witchcraft really is. It’s about trying to manipulate, dominate or control other people, so as to influence them or get them to do what you want, without them realising what you are doing.

So, if you are running a Tupperware business, or selling life insurance, then don’t ever invite people to your home or to a function without openly telling them what your aims are. Say “I’ve set up a financial services business. Would you like to come to a barbecue I’m having, after which I will give a 20 minute talk about pensions?” That’s OK to say because it’s open and honest. The person is then made fully aware of your motives and is free to say no.

But it would be wrong if you just invited them to your barbecue without saying why and then took the opportunity to try to sell to them afterwards. Such manipulative behaviour is very widespread. Indeed, it is often taught in courses on how to sell to people. But a Christian must never stoop to such depths.

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