There is one thing that each of us have that I am not sure we fully realize how important it is. The reason I say this is, if we really understood how important it is, we would make some changes. That which I am referring to, of course, is our influence. I fear that many of us may not have come to a full realization of the amount of good or damage we may do through our influence. In view of such, lets give some careful consideration to our influence, and make the necessary changes in order to do the greatest amount of good.

 

We influence those who imitate us. Consider Paul’s words found in Philippians 4:9, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” The world is full of imitators, and many of them are imitating us. Students often imitate their teachers. Children imitate their parents, grandparents, or siblings. I remember seeing a TV commercial some years ago about a father and his young son leaning against a tree. The father pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, lit one, and laid them on the ground beside his son. The commercial faded out as the child reached for the cigarettes to emulate his father. As Christians, we need to realize that we are influencing those who we come in contact with.

 

Neighbors are influenced by our actions. No doubt we recall the story of the woman at the well recorded in John chapter four. Consider what is said in verse 39, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” Someone has said, “I would rather see a sermon any day than to hear one.” Our neighbors, who never attend services with us, are seeing one sermon after another, seven days a week. As such, what kind of sermons are you “preaching” by your actions? When you miss the assemblies of the church, what are you “preaching” to them about the importance of attendance? When there is a Gospel Meeting or a V.B.S., and you do not attend, what are you “preaching” to them about the importance of these activities? What about the type of clothing they see you wear? Are you “preaching” a “sermon” on modesty or immodesty? What about the places they know you frequent? What type of “sermon” are you “preaching?”

 

Family members are influenced by our actions. How great it would be that God could say of us as He did of Abraham in Genesis 18:19, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment;…” Or, that He could say of us as was said by Paul of Eunice and Lois, in 2 Timothy 1:5, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” As parents, and especially as fathers, we have a great opportunity and responsibility  to serve in the capacity of being the kind of parent that God expects us to be. Consider Paul’s words found in Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

It is such a shame to see parents influencing their children to be worldly minded rather than spiritually minded. As parents we need to understand that we only have one chance to get this right. If we fail, our children may be lost eternally. Parents influence their children much more by the “sermons” they “preach” by their lives than the preacher will ever preach to those same children. All too often children cannot hear what the preacher is saying due to the way their parents are living. I have seen far too many children have the sermons on modesty, dancing, and other moral issues torn down by parents on the way home from services. I, also, can look upon those same children who grew up and left the church. I can fairly much assure you, that if you spend your time tearing down the sermons on these issues, instead of reinforcing them, you will look back some day and regret your decision. If we really want our children to live godly lives, then we had been live godly lives before them.

 

Unseen people may be influenced by the way you live. We not only influence those we personally come in contact with each day, but also those who see us while we do not see them. Consider Paul’s words to the church at Rome as found in Romans 1:8, “…I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” You may be surprised how many people of whom you have no idea, that are paying attention to what you say and do. You stop to buy gas, the attendant may know you, even though you have no idea who they are. I recall many years ago, while I was still building houses as a sub-contractor, and preaching on a part time basis, a new electrician that was hired to wire the house I was framing. A few weeks later I was invited to fill in for the preacher of a congregation I had not previously preach for before. Guess who showed up that day? You got it, that electrician. I remember another situation, where two members of the church, although from different congregations, worked side by side, neither knowing the other was a brother in Christ. Makes you wonder how you conducted yourself, doesn’t it?

 

Local church members may be influenced by the way you live. It can be said of almost any “outstanding” congregation that it’s growth  can be attributed largely to a minority. Needless to say, that is a shame. Older people in the congregation need to be setting a proper example for those who are younger. It is a shame that the younger people must look to themselves in times of needed encouragement. So often a “do nothing” attitude permeates a congregation because those who are recent converts look to those of who are older in the faith for direction, and they do not receive such. As with so many different situations, our guidance fails miserably when it comes to setting the right kind of an example when it comes to matters pertaining to attendance, worship participation, outreach, and overall participation in the work of the local congregation.

            It is a tragedy to see “Christians” who could be of such a great influence upon other members of the congregation, but who fail to do so. Consider the words of Paul to Titus in Titus 2:1-8, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” It is past time we come to the realization of the damage we are doing to Christ’s church by our failure to set the proper example in our lives. There is no way around it, we are going to influence others who compose the church here. Will it be for good, or will it be for bad?

 

The religious environment will be influenced by you. The Apostle Paul changed the religious environment of a whole city, as seen in Acts 19:10, 26, 27. Christians, on more than one occasion have made great strides in changing the environment in their area.

 

Negligent members may be influenced by you. So many congregations have negligent members. Members who are putting something other than the kingdom first, as required by the Lord in Matthew 6:33, “ But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” We have a God-given responsibility in this area. Consider the words of Paul to the Galatian brethren, “ Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Also the words of James, in James 5:19, 20, “ Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

 

Eternity will reveal the full scope of your influence. Give some thought to the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian brethren as seen in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, “ For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” As we think on them, we need to face the question of whether our influence exerted here will be for the good or for the bad. One’s eternal destination may well be determined by how we answer this question.

 

 

 

 

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