The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And again we’re back to square one in human relationships as God reminds us of the golden rule. Before you act, not only should you consider the effect of your conduct on yourself…but also how others will be affected by your chosen action. If you haven’t arrived at this understanding of the Christian experience you have missed a vital principle. “Life is not just about you.” What you think and how you act will always have an effect on others. God created you to influence your world. If you are a Christian your influence comes with great responsibility.
The bible has much to say about our circles of influence. There are actually three circles in which we have specific God-given responsibilities. These circles include our relationships and contacts within family, the Christian community, and the world.
I am reminded of a dear lady in one of the churches I pastored. She would definitely make my top 10 most godly list of Christians I have known. Her husband was not a Christian and every Sunday morning she would put out his clothes so he could go to church if he was so inclined. She was also an extraordinary mother and grandmother, excellent Sunday School teacher, a devoted supporter of her church, and a great blessing to her pastor. When you were in her presence you just felt closer to God. It is remarkable how many lives that dear lady touched for Christ. In fact, I doubt she ever realized the influence she had on so many. There is great power and influence in humble godliness.
Remember Paul’s words to Timothy? “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Tim 1:5) The godliness of both mother and grandmother influenced the life of Timothy who would become a leader in the early church.
More than teaching, you are modeling the life that is best for those in your circle of influence. What they see in you is much of what they will become. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Don’t just teach it. Live it.
As I have said before and will repeat it many times, I am what I am today because of the influence of my grandmother. She wasn’t a flashy evangelist, great orator, or a theologian. She was a humble and godly woman who taught me about Christ both in words and actions, the kind of person that I want to be.
In addition to a godly influence within the family we also have an obligation to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. (“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jn 13:34; “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jn13:35; “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Ro 12:10)
We also have a responsibility to love those outside the Christian community: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” 1 Thess 3:12; “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” 1 Pet 2:17; “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Lk 6:27)
When we follow the Lord’s design for human relationships then we can successfully minister to the needs of our fellow man, provide a proper example of what it means to be a Christian, and more effectively share the good news of Jesus to a lost and hurting world. The power of God’s love that effects change in us can effect change in this wicked and misguided generation and lay the foundation for change in future generations.
Consider those in your circles of influence. Are you drawing them toward God or pushing them away from God? You don’t have to beat them over the head with the bible. Just love them with the love of God. There is amazing power in humble godliness.
Over the years I have often heard Christians wondering about their place in ministry. In reality, finding your place is not hard. Just look around you to your circles of influence. “…each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.” (1 Corinthians 7:17) Make the most of the circles of influence that God gives you. Put simply, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
For more on this topic, check out this article: The Powerful Influence of Faith
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.