Genesis 22:13-14 (NKJ) – 13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Tragically, many of we Christians today, unlike Abraham who recognized God as his ultimate source and provider, instead look to man as our source. Doing so, we may even succumb to methods (as do many non-Christians posing as Christians) that are ungodly and unwarranted. How so? The methods vary, but let us look at a few of them: 1. We may quote to others (often more at them) verses that are intended to make them feel emotionally accountable or guilty so they will provide us with material blessings (money, material goods, etc.). 2. We may learn and emulate strategies from others so we can manipulate others into giving. 3. We may by repeatedly asking others for material gifts seek to wear them down so they will provide those gifts to us.
4. We may show others pictures of needy children (and adults), much like animal protection agencies in the United States do with neglected and abused animals, so they will become emotionally entangled, guilty, and easily manipulated into giving.
Obviously, we should recognize that God desires for us to give to the poor and needy. However, our motivation for giving should not be based on the manipulative strategies employed by some to gain our material support. We need to remember that Jesus never used manipulation (nor did His disciples) to gain material support from others. That does not mean it is wrong for ministers, ministries, or those in need to ask for our support. However, when we respond that we do not believe it is the right thing to do or that we cannot do something presently, those asking for support need to honor us and back off. Those asking then need to trust God that if He so desires to use us to help support them materially He will speak to us about giving. Having asked, let us never allow ourselves to become habitually in-your-face manipulators.
Sadly, some of us who habitually seek to manipulate others into giving have not learned what Abraham did, that, ultimately, God, not man, is our source. Sure, He uses others to provide material blessings, but we need to remember to keep the focus on Him, trusting Him to use whom He desires, not seeking to manipulate others into giving. That is not to say that all of us who manipulate, though manipulation is always an ungodly technique, are charlatans. Some of us, due to poor teaching and/or a lack of knowledge, have yielded to fears and/or have been trained to use ungodly methods to seek support. However, some among us are charlatans. Related to charlatans, we never want to enable their ungodly and improper methods by succumbing to their manipulation.
When we recognize that we are guilty of using manipulation to gain material support from others, we need to immediately cease from doing so. Then, we need to learn to focus on God as our Source and Provider by consistently studying and meditating on the many verses and passages in the Bible that reveal Him as such. Allowing more mature believers to mentor us as we learn how to look to God as our Source is also wise. Meanwhile, if we made a request for material support from another and they declined that support, we need to leave them to God. What we certainly do not want to do is badger them about giving every time we come in contact with them. If He wants to use them, let us trust Him to lead them in that way.
If we recognize that we are charlatans, those who have purposely deceived others in order to gain material support, our error is even greater, as it reveals that our motives have been impure. Apprehending that we are charlatans, we need to repent, asking God to forgive us for embracing ungodly motives. Where possible, we need to ask those we duped to forgive us and make material restitution to them. It would also be wise to enlist a seasoned Christian to mentor us as we learn to walk free of the temptations to deceive others.
Ultimately, we are accountable as Christians to refrain from manipulative behaviors when asking others for material support. It is also our responsibility, when asked, to not succumb to manipulation and give. Furthermore, if there are charlatans among us, we need, when possible to confront them, and, if necessary, protect others from their schemes by making them known to the uninformed. We should never do this as those relishing the role of got-you-police, but rather in the role of those, based on love, seeking to protect others from schemes. Finally, the real issue is that we all need to learn to fully recognize God in the form of Jesus as our Source and Provider. Doing so, manipulations and deceptive behaviors related to material issues should become less and less a part of our lives.