“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another.” Galatians 5:13
God wants us to choose to love Him through our free will. He doesn’t want us to love Him because we have to; He wants us to love Him because we want to. Therefore, God gives liberty for true love. Love that is not true can have control. Control can go anywhere from a mild manipulation all the way to an extreme abuse.
Why would someone want to be in control? Whether a person is born again or not, at the foundation of all control, you will find self-sufficiency instead of surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. A controlling person may care about people, but the way they interact with others becomes dysfunctional. In addition, some people have been hurt in their past and have difficulty trusting others, so they feel they have to maintain control in order not to be the one being controlled.
On the other hand, there are people who seem to be drawn to controlling people. They are usually men or women who feel insecure and want someone to give them attention or to give them a sense of being taken care of. This is dysfunctional behavior also.
The love of God is a true love that doesn’t involve control, but it does require trust and surrender to God’s authority. People that have not known God’s true love, but instead have known a dysfunctional love, will need to relearn what a healthy relationship is.
True love does not attempt to control how you think, feel, speak or behave. True love does not attempt to manipulate others through guilt, shame or fear. It does not try to coerce others by nagging, withdrawal, criticism, threats, temptation, harassment, etc. In addition, true love would never try to dominate another person through verbal abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse. True love has liberty, the freedom to give love or not and the freedom to receive love or not.
The answer to our control issues, whether we are the one controlling or the one being controlled, is Jesus. Control, at the root, is a spiritual issue. Choose to make Jesus the Lord of your life, and let God’s true love restore and transform you so you can live in His freedom.
Application: If you are in a relationship with someone who is controlling, pray and ask the Lord what you are to do. God will give you the discernment, grace, and strength that you need.