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Master Manipulator

Master Manipulator

We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Acts 5:28

Addicts can be professional manipulators. Somehow, they will blame everyone but themselves for their own destructive behavior. Unable to take responsibility, they will make those closest to them feel like it’s all their fault. Their behavior isn’t defective, rather it’s everyone else’s defective behavior that causes them to do what they do.

As a physician, it’s not uncommon for a drug-seeking addict to tell me that if I don’t give him the prescription he wants, he’ll have to buy heroin on the street. And that will be all your fault! I’m not the cause of his heroin use of course, but in his desperation, he’s convinced that I am.

This isn’t unique to drug addiction. Almost anyone stuck in some toxic behavior finds it easier to blame others than to take responsibility. This was the case in today’s passage. As the apostles shared the gospel, leading many to faith in Christ, the religious leaders grew increasingly agitated. They were already guilty of crucifying Jesus, which wasn’t a problem as long as a public majority supported that decision. As more and more followed Christ though, the religious elite felt the people’s opinion turning against them. They killed Jesus, yet somehow, they blamed the apostles for the blood on their hands.

Most of us are familiar with this manipulative behavior and we’ve likely done it ourselves. Those who are angry, often tell their loved ones it’s their fault. If you wouldn’t make me mad, I wouldn’t act like this. Those who are unfaithful usually blame their spouse. If you were a better wife, I’d be a better husband. Those who overeat might blame their boss. If I had an easier schedule, I’d be more disciplined in my diet and exercise.

The problem of course, is that others aren’t responsible. Others cannot fix our problems. They may help us if we let them but putting the fault on those around us gets us nowhere. In blaming, we simply stay stuck in our misery. If we want to grow, leaving behind our self-destruction, we must learn to be continually honest with ourselves, taking responsibility. Then, we must do whatever it takes to address our struggles.

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