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Influence: The Potential For Good and Evil

Influence as a teaching tool is not taken very seriously today. Yet, it is one of the most powerful forces that we can have over people. The world influence is from Latin and literally means, "to flow in." It is the power of people or things to act on others, seen only in its effects. In the physical realm radiation would be a good parallel to influence. Radiation can be used constructively, as in X-rays and treatment of cancer, or it can be devastatingly dangerous, as in radiation poisoning. Let us examine several characteristics of influence that mirror those of radiation. We will see the detrimental and positive effects of influence.

Influence, like radiation, is unseen but its effects are often very clear. Jesus once told His disciples to, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matthew 16:6). He was talking about the negative effects their doctrines had on so many people. Paul put it this way, "Evil company corrupts good habits" (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Sometimes it is difficult for us to see the bad influences surrounding us. We might be dating someone or have close friendships with people who do not hold to Christians ideals. Let us take inventory of the things that affect us. Are those influences making us better or taking us further away from God? There are avenues of good influence that we can choose. Early Christians were those who positively affected so many people. Their love and sacrifice for God and their brethren silently reached out and attracted many to Christ (Acts 2 & 4).

The longer we stay around radiation the more contaminated we become. Likewise, the influences that touch our lives have an accumulative affect. Peter instructed wives with unbelieving husbands to win them to Christ without constant nagging them about obeying the gospel. Instead, these godly women were to live the gospel message before them (1 Peter 3:1-3). Often the best lessons preached are delivered in this way. Sadly, Satan's sermons are given in similar ways. We might not walk among the ungodly but we might invite detrimental influences into our houses through various forms of media. How many have allowed TVs and computers to take their hearts away from God?

Finally, large doses of radiation are deadly. This is also true of influence. Many understand this concept. They agree that the adulterous man at Corinth had to be withdrawn from immediately (1 Corinthians 5). There are occasions where the most deadly influences are disguised in "good people." Peter is an example of this. His partiality for Jewish Christians over gentile ones caused Barnabas and other Jews to take part in his hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). We must never blindly follow people regardless of all the good they have accomplished in the past.

Influence is a wonderful tool for good and a dangerous one for destruction. Let us surround ourselves with those things and people that will help us go to heaven. Train our hearts to be the good influence that will aid others in reaching eternal salvation.

— via The Auburn Beacon, Auburn, Alabama