The Power of Influence

The Unfortunate Power of a Bad Influence

The wrong kind of influence can lead others into sin – Proverbs 22:24-25 “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” Notice how is says “lest thou learn his ways” – because you could be influenced by them to sin. Be on guard for who may be influencing you!

Some examples of a bad influence

Solomon (I Kings 11:3-4 – And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 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.) – These verses provide us a dual example of bad influences.

First, Solomon left a terrible influence on his children, his followers and future kings by him taking 700 hundred wives and 300 concubines. This evil adulterous influence and legacy led to much sin and heartbreak.

Second, his many worldly wives eventually had a bad influence on him and turned him even further away from God.

This goes to remind us and show us, influence is a two-way street, we have influence on others and others have influence on us. We need to be vigilant and guard both. We need to guard our influence on others to make sure it is always Christ-like and we need to be diligent in gauging the influence others have on us to make sure we are getting the best kind of influence; or if we are in a situation where we cannot always get that Christ-like influence, to be aware of that and ask Christ’s help to filter out the bad influences and do our best to not let it influence us for the worst.

Ahaziah King of Judah (II Chronicles 22:3-4 – He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly. Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the LORD like the house of Ahab: for they were his counsellors after the death of his father to his destruction.) – Notice the duality of influence found again in these verses. He was influenced by evil counselors, they had a sinful destructive influence on him, and he in turn had an evil and destructive influence on others. We need to guard the kind of influences we have in our life and seek out Godly influences and be spiritually aware of the evil influences in our life and if possible stay away from them, and if not, guard against them while we are being exposed to them.

What Kind of Attitude Should We Have Toward Our Influence?

We need to be making sure, to the best of our ability and circumstances, that the influences in our life are the right kind of influences, influences that point us to Christ and have a Godly impact on us.

We need to guard our influence that we have on others and seek to make sure it is the right kind of influence. We need to make sure, again as much as our circumstances allow, that our influencers and our influence we give out are both anchored in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Hebrews 6:19 – Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;)

How is your Influence?

We should stay away from anything that will hurt our influence – Romans 14:13-16 “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

We should avoid as much as possible all evil and sinful influences. Keep in mind many things are not necessarily wrong in themselves, but they may lead you or someone you influence to sin, so we need to stay away from those influences as well as much as possible too – I Thessalonians 5:21-23 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Conclusion

The power of a good example and influences, and bad  influences lives on past death (Hebrews 11:4– By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh). The power of Abel’s good influence and example lives on and unfortunately the power of Cain’s bad influence and example lives on. What kind of influence will you be known for years from now to have had on others? What kind of impact will you have had on the world with your influence? We all have influence, how will you use yours for Christ? Or will you let it be used by Satan? Our influence as Christians cannot be overemphasized. We have an effect on others. This fact is illustrated well by the poem “Touching Others“.

The slightest breeze that ever blew
Some slender grass has wavered,
The smallest life I ever knew
Some other life has flavored.

We cannot live our lives alone
For other lives we touch
Are either strengthened by our own,
Or weakened just as much.

How is your Influence?

Check your influence – What kind of influence are you personally having on others? What kind of example are you setting for those around you, to those that look up to you, to those that love you? Make sure you are that Christ-like influence to others and make sure you are around the right kind of influences. Decide that today; determine that today, with Christ’s help!

Illustration

In 1874 Richard L. Dugdale was employed by the New York Prison Commission to visit the state prisons. As he visited he was surprised to find criminals in six different prisons whose relatives were mostly criminals or paupers, and the more surprised to discover that these six criminals were all descended from the same family.

This led him to study their relatives, living and dead. He studied the court and prison records, reports of town poorhouses, and the testimony of old neighbors and employers. He learned the details of 540 descendants of the patriarch of this family born about 1720. He traced others linked to the family bringing the number up to 1,200 persons of the family of the Jukes (Juke was not the real name of the family). They were described this way:

“The almost universal traits of the family were idleness, ignorance, and vulgarity. They would not work, they could not be made to study, and they loved vulgarity…. It is very difficult to find anyone who is honest and industrious, pure and prosperous.”

In 1897 A. E. Winship was asked by a scholarly organization to prepare a paper on Jonathan Edwards. In the course of his studies he discovered the descendants of Edwards presided over the New York Prison Commission which housed many of the Juke descendants. This led Winship to a study in contrast between Jukes and Edwards. Jonathan Edwards’ great-great-grandfather, Richard Edwards, was a clergyman. Among the first men of the Edwards family to come to the colonies in New England was William, a son of this clergyman, born about 1620.

The results of this study of contrast between the Edwards and the Jukes, is also an observation of the power of influence on a family. The Edwards family had the influence of a preacher as the patriarch, the Jukes family had the influence of a man of poor morals and poor work habits as their patriarch. There life affected more than them. There choices affected more than just them. Their influence affected more than those just around them, it affected multiple generations of their descendants.

The Jukes family:

  • 310 of the 1,200 were professional paupers—more than one in four.
  • 300 of the 1,200—one in four—died in infancy from lack of good care and good conditions, as a result of their poor work ethic.
  • 50 women who lived lives of harlotry.
  • 400 men and women ruined their health early in life by their own sinful lifestyles.
  • 7 were murderers.
  • 60 were habitual thieves who spent on the average twelve years each in prison.
  • 130 more were criminals who were convicted of other crimes.

What a terrible example, and it all started with the Patriarch of this family in 1720, what a terrible influence he had and look at all the ruined lives as a result of that one man’s evil influence.

The Edwards family:

  • 1 U.S. Vice-President (Aaron Burr)
  • 3 U.S. Senators
  • 3 Governors
  • 3 Mayors
  • 13 College Presidents
  • 30 Judges
  • 65 College Professors
  • 80 Public office holders
  • 100 Lawyers
  • 100 missionaries, pastors and theologians.

What a drastic difference in these two families, they illustrate well the power of influence. Your life affects others. More than you may think it does. How are you influencing others? How are you influencing the generations coming up behind you?

Numbers 14:18 “The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.”

How is your influence? Your life and how you live it affects more than just you. It can affect generations to come. Influence your family towards the Lord and leave them a Godly heritage.

How is your Influence?

 

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