Galatians 4:17 ESV They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.
This morning I was thinking about how, over the years, wicked people have used me. And the thought struck me that “abuser” is a very descriptive word in this regard. Abusers are users. To ab-use is to use someone or something for an abnormal, deviate, twisted and improper purpose. The prefix “ab” means “off” or “differing from.” Ab-normal then means “off normal. Differing from that which is normal.”
To ab-use then means to use someone or something in an “off” manner as opposed to using for a proper purpose. The wicked use their targeted victims for reasons that are “off” what is a right and healthy use. Let me describe my experience in this business for the purpose of helping you see how it has come at you in your life.
I have known people over the years, particularly in my years as a pastor, who showed many signs of being true friends who loved me. They invited me to their homes. They were faithful in being at the meetings of the church. They experessed thanks for my sermons and ministry. They even stood with me against evil people who were trying to destroy that ministry. And this kind of relationship continued for years.
They dumped me. Left. Gone. Their “love” turned to an essential hatred. it seemed to me to be a kind of divorce. What happened? I can tell you. They no longer had any use for me. As it turned out, they were using me for selfish, self-glorifying purposes. The friendship was a sham all along and in an instant I was discarded. Oh, of course they will never acknowledge this. They will blame me for the separation, just as your abuser has done to you. But the reality is that for whatever reasons, I was no longer of any use to them. They could not use me any more, just like you might donate some item you have used for years to the Goodwill because you don’t need it any longer. (Only these users have no goodwill!)
Your abuser uses you. Wrongly. For wicked, selfish purposes. He uses you for:
- Selfish economic reasons
- Selfish sexual gratification reasons
- Wicked craving for power and control reasons
- Evil servile reasons (you are his servant and slave)
- and many others
This is what the Apostle Paul is referring to in the Scripture quoted above. Abusers use. They flatter, but only to suck you in so that YOU can then “make much of them.” They abuse and misuse the flock of the Lord when they are a pastor or church leader:
Jeremiah 23:1-2 ESV “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. (2) Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD.
Any relationship that is characterized and motivated by ab-use is not a loving relationship, be it marriage, friendship, family, or some other association. It is a toxic front disguised as “love,” but completely devoid of the Lord’s proper and righteous design.