Noun: the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinion, etc, of others.
Verb (used with an object), influenced, influencing: To exercise influence on; affect; sway. To move or impel (a person) to some action.
As I continued moving through Paul’s dissertation in Galatians chapter five this morning, I suddenly stalled at verse seven where he questions his readers commenting, “You were doing so well. Who stopped you from being influenced by the truth?” (God’s Word ©) It wasn’t so much the question that was asked, but the thought that may have spurred the inquisition. When I read this today I immediately said aloud, Paul is thinking that someone or something may have greater influence on them than the truth of God’s Word!
Immediately I brought that thought home and asked myself if I have had anything or anyone that had a stronger influence in my life than Jesus… and to be perfectly honest, a few years ago if I was true to myself, I would probably have to say that in many respects my lovely wife held that position! Since we have begun this journey with my wife’s health though, my focus and the first and greatest influence has been Papa God and the truth of His Word. He has become the ONLY one that I could trust to stay the same in His loving concern and care for my wife and I. Where people may have fallen short, He has ALWAYS come through!
At the onset of this battle, soon after moving back to our hometown after our stay in Oklahoma, my mother-in-law made a comment to me that at the time, I did not realize how prophetic it would become. After a visit at which I had brought Piper’s folks totally up-to-date on the latest medical information we had my wife, my mother-in-law looked at me and seriously stated, “Well, you’ll have to take the lead on this.”
I remember smiling to her and nodding my head while thinking a little sarcastically on the inside… “You got that right! Especially after all the seemingly endless tests I had taken her to in Tulsa, the meetings with her doctors there, the traumatic events surrounding the visible changes we had been witnessing, the deep emotional upheaval, and then the latest set of hospital and doctor visits following her first seizure at home…”
What I didn’t realize was that “taking the lead” would not only incorporate working with the medical side of the situation, but also taking the lead in being strong and dealing with other people’s emotions, insensitive statements, neglect and the importance of protecting my wife from others who suddenly wanted to have a leading influence in the process. Don’t get me wrong. Many people have had a very positive influence as we have walked the paths of this journey, but there have also been those that as the Message Bible puts Galatians 5:7, have tried their best to “cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience.”
Those who have influenced us the most are the ones who earned it through their encouraging and loving words backed with actions of unselfish giving of themselves, their time and their prayers. As a leader I have come to realize that I have to guard over my wife and choose who has the right or not to be an influence in her life at this critical time. I think that this is the responsibility of every Christian no matter what personal journey they may be on at any given time in their lives.
Paul was very much aware that his readers had allowed someone or something to have a negative effect on them, which caused them to begin to draw away or dilute the faith that they had in Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word. He knew that in order for them to be successful in their walk of faith, that they had to stay singly focused and determined to follow His Word and His directions, no matter what anyone else thought they had the right to influence them with!
I’ve learned that the greatest way to influence someone is to point them to Jesus instead of to a set of do’s and don’ts. To find out where their faith is, swallow your own pride (another important lesson I learned early on) and support them where they are. Let Jesus and His Word make any necessary changes. Don’t try to force your influence on them!
Have a great day. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting (to influence or be influenced by) today?”