It's a sin to manipulate -- and it's also a sin to be manipulated.

The art of manipulation is an old one. In Luke 10, Jesus refused to accept the blame from what, at minimum, appears to be a manipulating woman. "But Martha was distracted with all her preparations and she came up to Him" (Luke 10:40). She says this, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Why don't you tell her to help me?"

Jesus' response is interesting and exemplary. He says, "Martha, Martha, you're worried and bothered about so many things." Jesus was gentle, but note that He didn't accept the manipulation and the guilt-trip that was laid on Him by Martha. And notice that He didn't do what she said ("Tell my sister to start helping!").

Let me tell you something you need to remember: It is a sin to manipulate. It is a sin to try to get people to be the way you want them to be. It is also a sin to be manipulated.

The point? You can't stop manipulating. You can't set anyone free until you are no longer a slave. The day I found out I was forgiven, I didn't have to manipulate anymore. So, if you find yourself trying to twist and turn everybody into your mold, get on your knees and pray, "God, I want to be free of manipulation. I don't want to be that way anymore. Let me know what it's like to really be forgiven."

And if you find you're being manipulated because you don't want to make waves – if you just smile and do whatever anybody tells you to do -- that's a sin too. And you probably feel that way because you sense guilt. The solution? Again, get on your knees and pray, "God, let me know how forgiven and free I really am!"

This is the way -- the only way -- to be free from manipulation.