One reason that people struggle with manipulation is that they have a personal agenda they are determined to fulfill. “It must get done at all costs.” Even when an agenda has “good intentions,” a person may still employ manipulation in order to accomplish his goals. While goal setting in of itself can be a good thing, the way the goals are met will determine if they are truly worthy. That is to say, methodology will expose the heart of the individual.
As believers, we need to realize that God is more concerned with our ways than our acts (see Matthew 7:17-27). Generally, our acts will be the result our ways found in the heart. A person may have a “ good” agenda or goal, but if it is based upon hypocrisy, it will be of no eternal value to him. By definition, a hypocrite is an actor pretending to be someone he is not. There is a difference between having shortcomings from time to time in our walk as believers, and one pretending to be a believer. A worthy goal is faith-based, glorifies God, and is rooted in love (Galatians 5:6). That means we should be concerned with the will of the Father, and let Him determine our goals and the way they are carried out. Secondly, our desire should be to glorify our King out of love for Him. That same love should dictate the way we interact with others. Our agenda is simple: love and obey the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we determine our own agenda on our terms, we will be heading for trouble. Manipulation will be nipping at our heals.
Galatians 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another (KJV). Perhaps, consider the way you go about your business in relation to the fruit of the Spirit, and the way love is defined in 1Corinthians 13:1-13. Without love, our goals and agendas mean nothing. As we submit to the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh, which also means we will not manipulate others (Galatians 5:16). While we may have our lists of “things to do,” we ought to allow God to determine the outcome. Consider Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct thy paths” (KJV). If we try to determine the outcome, our road will be very bumpy and may lead to a dead end.