ODJ: Emotional Extortion

November 26, 2017 

READ: 2 Chronicles 19:1-11 

These were his instructions to them: “You must always act in the fear of the Lord, with faithfulness and an undivided heart” (v.9).

Bribery. We typically associate it with a financial exchange or the awarding of position—be it political or otherwise. Human brokenness, however, also lends itself to bribery of the heart. Whether it’s relational manipulation or the promise of belonging, each of us has probably encountered emotional extortion somewhere along life’s path.

Regardless of its form, bribery is a spiritual issue, one that fosters injustice because we close our eyes to the truth. Exodus 23:8 says, “Take no bribes, for a bribe makes you ignore something that you clearly see. A bribe makes even a righteous person twist the truth.” On either end of the exchange, whether we’re using someone or trying to please another individual, bribery is an attempt to fill a real or perceived need through an inappropriate human exchange rather than resting in God’s provision.

Jehoshaphat, the fourth king of Judah, had made his fair share of mistakes (2 Chronicles 19:1-2). His decision to choose leaders who would “fear the Lord and judge with integrity” and not engage in the “taking of bribes” (v.7), however, was one of many good decisions that marked his legacy. Perhaps through a lesson learned in his interactions with Israel’s King Ahab, Jehoshaphat realised that seeking to please people would only lead to spiritual bankruptcy (v.6). While it would have been easier to draw people to him by exploiting their needs in order to meet his own, he chose to found his kingdom on truth (v.4; see also Deuteronomy 16:19-20).

Bribery and emotional extortion lead only to pain and loss. By God’s grace and leading, may we also value justice and live with “an undivided heart” in our daily interactions with others (2 Chronicles 19:9).

—Regina Franklin

365-day-plan: 1 Corinthians 15:42-58

Read James 2:1-9 and consider how investing our attention in individuals based on their socio-economic status reveals a selfish need to be recognised by others. 
How can a lack of understanding our identity in Jesus render us vulnerable to emotional extortion? How can we hold fast to truth and justice in difficult circumstances with others, especially when surrounded by varying opinions?