The Power of Influence
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
1 Corinthians 15:33
I want to talk to you today about one word. I pray this word will come alive and leave a lasting impression in your heart.
That word is: “Influence.”
Jeroboam was an evil king who desecrated the altar of God in Bethel by turning it into a place of idol worship. God sent a young prophet to give a warning message to Jeroboam.
The young prophet did as God instructed him. He delivered the message to King Jeroboam. The king wasn’t happy with the message. It took God withering his hand and subsequently healing it for Jeroboam to take the message seriously.
Eventually, King Jeroboam invited the young prophet to his home to eat. The prophet answered, “For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came’” (1 Kings 13:9).
The young prophet started for home, declining food and drink, and leaving by a different way than he came, just as God instructed him.
But now the story takes a tragic turn. You see, there was an old prophet in the land who heard about the encounter between Jeroboam and the prophet. He got on his donkey and rode to find the young prophet. When the old prophet found him, he invited the young prophet back to his house to share a meal.
Again, the young prophet declined, and explained that God told him not to eat or drink anything while he was in Bethel. The old prophet said:
I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, “Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.” (He was lying to him.) So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water (1 Kings 13:18-19).
The old prophet used his influence to get what he wanted, even though he was leading the next generation into disobedience.
The old prophet’s use of influence destroyed that young man’s life. When the young prophet left, a lion met him on the road and killed him.
When the news reached the old prophet, he went and found the corpse, brought it to his home, and laid it in his own tomb. The old prophet mourned. He knew his evil influence caused the young prophet to disobey God. He knew he caused the death of that young man of God.
Everyone on earth has influence. Paul said, “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” (Rom. 14:7). You willinfluence others—whether for good or for evil.
Influence is more powerful than you think.
Influence lives on after you’re gone. It’s passed from one generation to another.
Your influence will impact your family for generations after you are gone. When you die in the Lord, your life has a positive influence on your children and your children’s children. If you refuse to follow God, it also influences your children and your children’s children.
I want to ask you a serious question: If you won’t serve God for your own soul, will you serve Him for those who love you and who will be influenced by your life? There are bright-eyed kids watching you, mom and dad. Your grandchildren are watching you, grandma and grandpa. Are you leaving a godly influence that will live on in their lives after you’re gone?
The epitaph on that grave in Bethel could read, “Here lies the bones of an old, dead, shell of a prophet.” More tragically, in that same grave, another epitaph could say, “Here lies the bones of a young man of God who was led astray by one man’s evil influence.”
It would be tragic if your epitaph could say, “Here lies the bones of a man or woman who would not serve the Lord.” But it would be an even greater tragedy if the epitaph of those you influenced could read, “Here lies someone who would have followed Jesus, but instead was influenced by a loved one to turn away from God.”
One day, I’m going to die. When I go, I’m going with fire in my bones and Jesus in my heart. I want to leave a godly influence.
How about you?
Will you join me in this prayer: “Lord, help me influence others for You. Let my influence lead my family and friends toward You, not away from You. Let me be so fired up for You that I leave a legacy of godly influence. Let that influence extend through the generations. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”