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Influence

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“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us no longer judge one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in the way of your brother or sister” (Romans 14:12-13, Christian Standard Bible).

When I was a small child, one of the hymns sometimes sung was “Watching You.” The chorus went like this:

Watching you, watching you,
Ev’ry day mind the course you pursue,
Watching you, watching you,
There’s an all seeing Eye watching you.

                                                                                  “Watching You” by John M. Henson

As you can imagine, as a child this “eye in the sky” concept did not make me comfortable. God leaning over from Heaven, just waiting to catch me doing wrong, was a scary thought. I haven’t heard that hymn sung in many years, and I realize God isn’t just waiting to pounce if I stumble. With maturity, I’ve also come to understand God does care about my actions (but isn’t going to pounce) and how I live also affects those around me. Whether we realize it or not, someone is always watching—and that someone may be our child, a coworker, our neighbor, or those we meet each day. How my action affects them is the ripple effect.

ripple effect (noun)  a series of things that happen as the result of a particular action or event. (from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary).

Whether consciously or unconsciously, how we live affects those around us. This can be a good thing or in some instances not so good. When Paul addressed the young men of the church in the Book of Titus, he explained how living a life of integrity is a good witness to the non-believer. The same holds true for any age.

“Showing yourself to be an example of good works in every way. In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and a sound message that cannot be criticized, so that any opponent will be at a loss, because he has nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8, New English Translation).

Modern culture tells us it doesn’t matter how we live. It’s our right, our freedom, to choose the lifestyle we want. If we aren’t breaking the law or harming someone else, it’s okay. Others should have no say in the matter. Culture may declare this, but the church must not. It is counter to biblical teaching. We may be the only example of Christ-like living someone will ever see.

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13, New Living Translation).

Prayer: Lord, help me to live in such a way that others can see You shining through my actions. I want to live with integrity and humility. I never want my actions to harm another or dishonor Your name in any way. It is my desire to draw others to You, not drive them away.

    It was a typical trip through the McDonald’s drive-thru. My granddaughter had her order figured out—the McNuggets Happy Meal. As I repeat it back to her, I stated, “And milk with that.”
    “No. I want a frozen strawberry lemonade.”
    “But you don’t even like lemonade,” I objected. “It’s tart. You won’t like it,”
    “I want a frozen strawberry lemonade. Not milk.” The voice from the backseat was emphatic. After a couple more attempts to dissuade her, each rebuffed, I ordered the frozen strawberry lemonade for her. All the while, I wondered where this idea had originated. My picky eater will seldom try new things and then not willingly. Unusual.
    Once we were home and she had her food in front of her, I observed some tentative sips of the lemonade. “Good!” she declared. But she didn’t seem to be drinking it very quickly. The McNuggets and fries disappeared in short order, but the lemonade began to melt as it was left sitting. I eventually put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.
    That evening, when mom and dad came to pick her up, I gathered up her things and retrieved the lemonade from the refrigerator. Handing the cup over I commented, “I don’t know why she wanted to order the frozen lemonade.” It was no mystery to her dad. “She wants to do everything you do.” I should have remembered those other drive-thru trips on hot days when I would order myself a frozen strawberry lemonade and comment how refreshing it was. Someone was watching from the backseat.
    Those words “she wants to do everything you do” have stayed with me. Inside I knew she watched my actions, but it wasn’t something I thought about that much—until the lemonade incident. I remembered the time she noticed that my Bible had a ribbon bookmark and inquired about it. On the next visit she looked at the Bible and wanted to know if I’d read more. Had the bookmark moved? How glad I was that I could truthfully say, “Yes, I’ve read more in my Bible. I read it every day.”
    Most of us go through life unaware of who is watching our actions. It may be a child or grandchild, but it may just as easily be a coworker, a neighbor, or even a stranger. A friend recently told me of an incident when a business transaction became very stressful because of an employee’s mistake. Although the mistake caused inconvenience and extra work, she dealt with it in a calm manner and did not display anger. Afterwards, a stranger who had observed the incident walked up and said, “I just want you to know that I think you handled that like a true Christian.” She didn’t know someone was watching.
    I want the lemonade lesson to stay with me a long time. I hope that “she wants to do everything you do” also means she wants to give her heart to the Lord when she reaches an accountable age. I hope it means she will see the importance of serving Him and putting Him first in her life. I don’t just want her to drink lemonade—I want her to drink from the same refreshing water of the Spirit that I have enjoyed.

Driving under the influence or (DUI) is at all time high in our community. People who drink and get into a car lose the ability to make good decisions. I find we have a considerable amount of folks who are functioning under the influence of others. They have allowed others to steer them the wrong way. It doesn’t just affect the common man but those in affluent positions are often under the influence of others. Solomon was a great king who was influenced by his wives. “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4 in the King James Version of the Holy Bible). Who is influencing you?

Prayer: Lord, give me a clean heart. Let me always serve You and You only! Keep me from being distracted and affected by the influence of others to the point that I turn from following You. Amen.

Devotion by: Kaye Singleton