Part 2 – Last blog we started a short series on Scripture Therapy for New Believers. We covered some of the many exciting things about Christianity—freedom in Christ, freedom from the penalty of sin, freedom from your past, and freedom to create a good future.
Now let’s look at something else that impacts every relationship in your life: control. According to the Bible, God has given you control over your life. You choose what you believe and how you will live.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life… Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)
You are in control of what you do in your life (and we’ll talk more about that next time). BUT you are not in control of what others do with their lives!
Don’t Control Others
Sometimes as Christians we so badly want everyone else to live a God-honoring life that we try to make them do the right thing. If they do, we feel pleased and if they don’t, we feel like a failure.
But God has made each of us with our own free will. What other people do with their free will is not your responsibility! Even when someone else is making choices that are wrong, it is not our responsibility to make them change. Whatever they choose, the consequences are their own:
The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. Ezekiel 18:20 (NIV)
You are not accountable for the choices of your children, your parents, your friends, or your co-workers.
Each One of us is Different
You might say, “Of course we’re all different!” But did you know this means we need different things? According to Choice Theory we have five basic needs: Survival, Love and Belonging, Freedom, Power, and Fun. Yes, this is something we all have in common. What is different is the strength of each of these needs in our own life. While you may have a strong need for freedom, your sister may have a much stronger need for love and belonging. Each of you will behave differently as you try to meet those needs.
If you find yourself trying to meet the needs of others, or trying to control the choices they make as they try to meet their needs, it’s time to give your concerns to God and then leave it in His hands.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
When you accept that each person is working in different ways to meet their needs, and that your job is not to force them to behave in a certain way, you find a new freedom—freedom from controlling others.
In our work providing Reality Therapy (the practical application of Choice Theory), we see again and again the relief people experience when they realize they are not responsible for the behavior of others. Some people have spent their entire lives trying to protect loved ones, change people around them, or control how others interact with them. Letting all of this go frees up energy to pursue the good things that God wants for you, and that includes healthy relationships.
So, as you go about your day today remember this very important principle:
You can give people information, but what they do with that information is up to them. You are not responsible for other people’s behavior!