A Lasting Influence
Our influence is something we possess and others use. Do you know who is watching you? Do you know how big of an influence that you have on other people? No you don't. And because of that we must be very careful how we conduct ourselves every minute of every day because we don't know who is watching --- besides God. Our influence is represented in different ways. In the book of Matthew alone, Jesus points out three ways that indicate how strong our influence is. First of all our influence is represented by light. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matt 5:14,16). This passage tells us that we will be seen no matter what. Therefore we must be the kind of influence or example that others will be able to see Jesus Christ in us. Our influence may only seem such a little thing to us but Jesus says "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened" (Matt 13:33). It doesn't take much influence to make a BIG impression on someone else who is watching you without you even knowing it. The third way that our influence is represented is stated again by Jesus in Matthew 5:13 when He says "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men".
As we know from our experiences in tasting salt that it is only as good as it is salty. Once it has lost its saltiness, then it is good for nothing! We also know that just a little bit of salt will add spice to many different foods. Is our life characteristic of the light, leaven, and salt? We may not have all the knowledge, and wisdom that we would like to have but there are a lot of little things that we can do to set the RIGHT influence for others to follow. Because it is the little things that others see in us that may make the difference in their eternal salvation.
The three different influences represented above could be good or bad. We know from reading 1 Cor 5:6-7 that we should not have a corrupting influence but rather one as Paul describes in Romans 14:21 when he says "It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles". To be able to truly do this as a Christian we must first have the attitude that we "DO CARE" about what kind of influence that others see in us and then to do all we can to keep our brothers and sisters from seeing something in us that would lead them to fall away from the truth. We have a responsibility to ensure that WE do EVERYTHING according to the will of God!
We should never try to influence others by physical force (Philemon 14), or by bribery (Acts 8:20; 24:26). But rather by our words (Acts 11:14) and by the example that we lead (Tit 2:7-8; Rom 14:21). We can see from the scriptures that each individual Christian has the responsibility to have a good influence on others (Matt 5:13-16).
Each Christian should want to influence others in a positive way ALL THE TIME. We need to influence the world (Matt 5:16), the other brethren (Rom 14:21; 1 Tim 4:12), our companions (1 Cor 7:16; 1 Pet 3:1) and of course our children. Our children see us every day and know what we are really like. If you want to know what your children think is the most important thing in your life just ask them - they'll tell you. But hang on, it may surprise you also. That's where your influence is showing, either in a good way or a bad way. And this is the type of influence that will be "A LASTING INFLUENCE". We all need to ensure that our influence is a godly influence.