The Peace Maker by Ken Sande
Idols always demand scarifies. When someone fails to satisfy our demands and expectations, our idol demands that he should suffer. Whether deliberately or unconsciously, we will find ways to hurt or punish people so that they will give in to our desires. This punishment can take many forms. Sometimes we react in overt anger, lashing out with hurtful words to inflict pain on those who fail to meet our expectations. When we do so, we are essentially placing others on the altar of our idol and sacrificing them, not with pagan knives, but with the sharp edge of our tongues. Only when they give in to our desire and give us what we want will we stop inflicting pain upon them.
We punish those who don’t bow to our idols in numerous other ways as well. Our children may use pouting, stomping, or shooting dirty looks to hurt us for not meeting their desires. Adults and children alike may impose guilt or shame on others by walking around with pained or crushed looked on their faces. And some people resort to physical violence or sexual abuse to punish and control others.
As we grow in faith and awareness of our sin, most of us recognize and reject overt and obviously sinful means of punishing others. But our idols do not give up their influence easily, and they often develop more subtle means of punishing those who do not serve them. Withdraw from a relationship is a common way to hurt others. This may include acting cool toward the other person, withhold affection or physical contact, acting sad or gloomy, refusing to look him or her in the eye, or even abandoning the relationship altogether.
Sending subtle, unpleasant cues over a long period of time is an age-old method of inflicting punishment. For example a friend of mine mentioned to me that his wife was not pleased with the fact that he was giving so much time to a particular ministry. He closed by saying, “And we all know, when Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” He laughed as he said it, but his comment made me think of the proverb. “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day” (Prov 27:5). A woman has a unique ability to set the tone in a home. If she is not careful, she can pervert that gift and use it to create an irritable, unpleasant, uncomfortable atmosphere that tells her family, “Either get in line with what I want, or you will suffer”. Such behavior is an act of unbelief. Instead of relying on God’s means of grace to sanctify her family, she depends on her own tools of punishment to manipulate them into change. Of course, a man can do the same thing. By being perpetually critical and unhappy, he too can make everyone in the family miserable until they give in to his idols. The usual result of such behavior is a superficial splintered family.