It began when I told my husband I’d given one of our daughters advice about how to “handle” a young man she was dating. A female trick of the trade. Every man is different–like a fingerprint–so each one needs slightly different tactics to soften their rough edges…blah, blah, blah…
I should have realized a man wouldn’t appreciated it. In fact, MY man was downright offended: “So, is that what you’ve done to me for twenty-five years? You ‘handle’ me?” he asked.
I spent the next hour explaining the fine distinction between “manipulating” and “handling.” Manipulating is using someone’s weakness against them for your own benefit. Handling someone is using his strengths and weaknesses to bring about the best result for everyone.
I’m not sure my explanation was adequate–or my logic. But I am sure that John’s Gospel gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ mastery of “handling” people. He called each of His first five disciples in a slightly different way–a way as unique as each man’s fingerprints.
The first two disciples had first been disciples of John the Baptist…
“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’
They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.” John 1:35-39
Jesus asked his first two disciples a searching question and then spent the whole day talking with them. Jesus knew these men were seekers–thinkers. Why else would they have been John the Baptist’s disciples? He drew them to Himself through their intellect.
Andrew was one of the original two disciples, and he was so excited about finding the Messiah, he ran to tell his brother. When Andrew’s brother arrived, Jesus prophesied these words before the man ever DID anything…
“Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter).” John 1:42
The impetuous, hot-headed fisherman would become Cephas–Peter. The Rock. Steady. Foundational. Solid. Did Peter need to hear those words? Did he fully comprehend their meaning? What matters most is that Jesus knew who Peter needed to become in order to accomplish the ministry he would be called to complete.
Next came Philip, a man Jesus “found” before they returned to the region of Galilee.
“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” John 1:43
Two words. No explanation. No discussion. And Philip follows. This guy had to have that California, surfer-dude mentality, right? Catch the next wave and go! He needed someone to take the reins of his life and give him direction. Jesus was that Someone.
Philip finds Nathanael and tells him about Jesus, but Nathanael has evidently heard one too many of Philip’s cockamamie schemes.
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.’ ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’” John 1:45-48
Nathanael had been disappointed by life one-too-many times. Cynical. Pessimistic. A smidge grumpy. He needed a miracle to capture his attention and win his trust. Jesus knew the guy lounging beneath the fig tree needed proof.
Jesus Handles Us All
Our all-knowing God uses His knowledge to handle us–individually. The one who wove you together in your mother’s womb–gave you a fingerprint like no other–now weaves your weaknesses and your strengths into a beautiful pattern that brings out the absolute best in your life.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:13
- Jesus knows who we need to become to accomplish the ministry we have been called to complete.
- Manipulation uses known weakness against someone. God uses our weakness to build on our strengths.
- The all-knowing God, who created each unique fingerprint, can call to anyone in any situation.
How does the Lord most often “handle” you?
- Questioning–challenges your intellect/reading/contemplation
- Prophetic–speaking to you personally through His Word and/or prayer
- Decisive–clear direction, unalterable truths
- Miraculous–God-sightings with only supernatural explanations