Devotions

The Ripple Effect

By Mary Loudermilk
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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.

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Mary enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and spending time with old friends. Although directionally challenged, she would rather take the back roads with their discoveries than the boredom of the interstate.

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