Our Influence

Modest woman with her hands folded near her heart
I have no idea who was the first to say it, but I am sure that many of us have heard it said, “You may be the only Bible that some people will ever read.”  The idea behind that saying is that most folks will not read their actual Bibles, but they will notice how a Christian lives his life.  If a child of God behaves himself unseemly in the presence of others, then those others will likely be left with a bad impression of Christians and Christianity.  Therefore, it is extremely important that Christians live godly lives.  Not only is it important for their own sakes, but also for those that they encounter from day to day.  Christians need to make sure that they do not hinder the cause of Christ.  Instead, we need to behave in such ways as to show dedication and appreciation to our Lord for all that He has done for us.  It might just be that others will see how blessed we are, and in turn, they may want to have those blessings for themselves.  Let us notice some accounts in the Bible of how godly people influenced others in positive ways.

          The first example that we will study is a woman named Naomi.  We learn about Naomi from the book of Ruth.  Naomi was the wife of a man of Bethelehem-judah called Elimelech.  She and her husband were the parents of two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.  This family eventually moved into the land of Moab.  While there, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi as a widow.  It was then that the Bible records that her sons each took a wife from the women of Moab.  One lady was named Orpah, and the other lady was named Ruth.  Sadly, Naomi had to endure more loss.  Both Mahlon and Chilion died, while their mother was still alive.  One can only imagine the amount of grief that Naomi experienced in her life.  With the death of her sons, Naomi’s daughters-in-law were now widows as well.  Naomi decided that she wanted to leave Moab and return to the land of Judah.  On the way there, Naomi encouraged Orpah and Ruth to “Go, return each to her mother’s house:  the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me” (Ruth 1:8).  Orpah eventually decided to return “…unto her people, and unto her gods” (Ruth 1:15).  Ruth, on the other hand, “clave” unto Naomi.  It would seem that Naomi had been such a good mother-in-law that Ruth did not want to leave.  Instead, Ruth said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:  for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:  thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:  the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).   What a magnificent example Naomi must have been to Ruth!  Being a child of God during that time, Naomi apparently lived in such a godly way, that Ruth wanted to live that way too.  In other words, Ruth wanted to serve the LORD because of the influence of Naomi.

          Then there is the reference to godly wives who were married to non-Christian husbands.  The apostle Peter indicated that “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear” (1 Pet. 3:1-2).  Again, the influence of the godly could have a major impact on the ungodly.  How many men have become Christians after witnessing their wives be faithful to the Lord?  For that matter, how many sons and daughters have become Christians because of the influence of their mother?  The ladies of old lived their lives in such ways that Peter encouraged Christian wives to imitate such.  “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:  Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord:  whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (1 Pet. 3:3-6).  Sometimes, ungodly husbands may want to serve the LORD because of the influence of their wives.

          Let us never forget that when we are around other people, they are watching us.  If we behave ourselves in ways that demonstrate our love and allegiance to God, it might be that we influence someone to become a Christian.  If we behave ourselves wickedly, we might just hinder someone from becoming a Christian.  Our influence can be for either good or bad.  Which one is it in your life?
~ Corey Barnette