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What Is God's Reverse Psychology?

Two hands illustrating importance of service in God's reverse psychology.

I've heard a number of people over the years comment about how Jesus was a practical psychologist. They cite the way he related to people and helped them work through their issues and problems, especially their sin.

I would like to add another dimension to this idea. Think of God the Father as the "great psychologist."

In sending his Son into this world and requiring him to die on the cross, God performed the ultimate lesson of reverse psychology. He gave his Son in death so we might live and be with him for eternity.

Taught to Die to Ourselves in Serving

By doing this, he taught us how to “die” to ourselves in service to others even as we have a need, and thereby reap benefits for ourselves. He taught us to plant a seed of service when we may be the ones in need. He taught us to empty our cups so he could generously refill them according to his spiritual riches.

We are all servants in one way or another.

As is made clear in the New Testament, each of us must die to ourselves in service of others. This is the way God’s love will restore what was lost thousands of years ago in the garden.

As a just God, he gave his Son on the cross to break the bond of sin and death. As a loving God, he gave his Son on the cross to show us how to individually restore the relationship broken by the Fall.

Christ Continued the Father's Practice

As Christ walked this earth, he continued his Father's practice of reverse psychology. In a number of scriptures, he tells us to be last so we might be first, to sacrifice that we might experience gain, not in a worldly since, but in a spiritual sense. The Beatitudes is a great example.

St. Francis of Assisi's Peace Prayer echoes this idea, "It is in dying that we are born to eternal life." The prayer suggests when we empty ourselves by giving to others, we make room for the Lord's blessings. Give love and you will be loved. Console and you will be consoled. Understand and you will be understood.

We Are All Servants

We are all servants in one way or another. Some give generously of their time and other resources to help others in very unique ways. How we give depends on our God-given natural and spiritual gifts, the experiences that shape who we are, and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Additional reading:

In conclusion, over the years, I’ve had the privilege of knowing dozens of volunteers who have given their time and other resources to serve others. To a person, they would tell you without hesitation, they believe they get more out of serving than those they serve. Many would describe it as a “win-win” for all involved. I call it God’s reverse psychology at work.

Listen to God's Words

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)

And whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:44-45)

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

Also read: Acts 20:35, Philippians 2:1-11, Luke 6:38

In the Words of Others

“The measure of man's greatness is not the number of servants he has, but the number of people he serves.” John Hagee

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” Albert Schweitzer

Think About It

  • In the last 30 days, who have you served by giving of your time or other resources, focusing on their needs and not your own?

  • Who have you thought about serving but never did? What were the reasons? In the next 30 days, how will you serve others?

  • Write down exactly who you will serve, how you will serve them, how committed you are to taking action, and the price you may have to pay to serve that person or persons. Sign it. Commit to it.

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