Do you realize how many people are looking up to you? People who want to be just like you. Whether you realize it or not you are influencing others around you. Are you being a good influence or a bad influence? Does it matter to you?
In chapter 2 of Galatians, we see that Paul is rebuking Peter for not fellowshipping with the Gentile Christians when the Jewish Christians joined in the group.
Peter knew that God’s love on the cross was to be extended to both groups, that the status of Greek or Jew made no difference in God’s eye. Therefore, Peter was okay with eating with the Gentiles but when Jewish people came into town he suddenly felt a lot less bold about the truth. He became more concerned about what the Jews would think of him now that he was befriending the Gentiles.
Because of his influence, many of the Jewish people followed Peter’s example.
Peter was preaching one thing but his actions did match up.
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. Galatians 2:13
We see how the choices Peter made in his life affected others. Barnabas was carried away and followed the crowd based on the influence of those around him.
Peter was leading Barnabas down a path that was making the law a part of salvation as if people could earn their way to heaven.
Paul boldly tells them that they are not justified by the law.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:16
We are only justified by our faith in Jesus Christ and His death. We cannot follow the law perfectly. That is why we need Jesus.
Peter was beginning to focus on what others thought of him and that caused him to make poor decisions. Which caused those following him to make those very same decisions.
It’s like a domino effect. What Peter did affected others.
The same is true today. There is always someone watching us. Whether it’s our children, younger girls in our church or unsaved family members. We all have influence in our circles.
Are we using that influence for good? Are we drawing people closer to God or pushing them away?
How to Be a Good Influence
Others will watch your example when you are compassionate. Someone who is compassionate notices the needs of others and meets them with a caring attitude. Compassion cares not just about physical needs but emotional needs as well. Did a woman in your church lose a baby? Send her a card, a small gift, or some chocolate. Does someone in your church need a meal? Take them one! A friendly hug, a small note can all go a long way in cheering up others.
Listening to others falls under this category. When we ask others about their lives and actually listen, it makes a difference. If you know someone has a sick family member, ask how things are going and genuinely listen, ask how you can help or pray for them.
People are drawn to others who care.
Be a servant.
Someone with a compassionate heart will find ways to serve. A willing heart is the key. People will notice and be influenced.
Take a stand when you are called to. Don’t waver in your faith in God. Don’t be ashamed of your faith. Tell others about Christ and what He has done in your life. Has God answered a prayer request-tell people! Did a verse stick out to you in your quiet time-tell people!
There is an older, wiser woman who was in our church for many many years before relocating and she has had such an influence in my life over the years. She was always talking about godly things – how big and amazing our God is, sharing tidbits from her prayer life, Bible reading and giving practical advice. She wasn’t shy or quiet about her life long walk with God. She had a God-given boldness. I want to be just like her when I grow up! Surely, I’m not a grown up yet. I keep thinking that, right?
Don’t live a double life. If you preach morality then you need to live our morality in your personal life. Your family is always watching you – inside your home and outside of it. Don’t put on a godly woman facade on Sunday and then live in wickedness all week long. Your true heart will be revealed in God’s time. Those with whom you have had influence over may turn their backs on Christ because of how you lived your life.
I hope that is not the case. We can apply Paul’s rebuke to Peter to our own lives. We all need to be reminded that someone is always watching us.
Your turn! What kind of influence do you hope to have on others? Have you given it much thought? I hope you will!
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