A Little Leaven Leaveneth the Whole Lump
Jeanette S. Hogg
There are so many directions we could go in covering the subject of influence, but we will concentrate on those areas which affect women the most. Whether we realize it or not, we are influencing someone every day of our lives. Let's examine some of the ways we influence others.
First, right in our own homes. We certainly exert an influence on our husbands. Suppose year after year our husbands see the first day of the week pass by while we take that time to read our paper and pour over the great ads, or maybe we use that day to do our baking for the week ahead. After all, we reason, that's the only free time we have. But, we're showing where our priorities lie and what comes first in our lives. How can we think about teaching someone the truth when we fail to practice it ourselves? Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 7:16, "For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? ... " Also, Peter said, "Like wise, 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 Peter 3:1-2).
Our priorities should be: God first, others second, and self third. This will not be difficult if we keep our eyes on the goal for which we are striving - eternal life in heaven.
Solomon was influenced by his wives. "... his wives turned away his heart after other gods ..." (1 Kings 11:4). We often think of "other gods" as graven images or idols, but anything we allow to come between us and our service to God constitutes "other gods" to us, whether it be work, recreation, family or worldly goods. In 1 Kings 21:25 scripture reveals that Jezebel "stirred up" Ahab. Woman can be strong influences on the men in their lives, both for good and evil.
We will not discuss subjection in this article, but we read in Genesis 3:16 that the woman was told, "... and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 11:3, "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." In verses 7-9 of the same chapter, he wrote, "but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man."
Second, our influence greatly impacts our children. What better source of knowledge and behavior can children have than that which they receive from their mothers? We can influence our children both to evil works and good, depending upon the nature of that influence. For example, 2 Chronicles 22:3 reveals that Jehoram listened to his mother's counsel and did wickedly. On the other hand, Timothy learned good behavior from his mother and grandmother. Paul wrote, "I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also" (2 Timothy 1:3-5).
The home reflects the type of woman who keeps that home. Several passages from the book of Proverbs bears this out clearly:
Third, we are always on parade before our neighbors. They see us when we leave on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday nights. It makes an impression. I know because recently I was ill and my car stayed in the garage for several days. My neighbors came over and inquired why I had not left on Sunday morning and evening. Even though they do not go to worship anywhere regularly they all realize that I do. The moral is clear. If we profess to be Christians our neighbors are quick to scrutinize our habits, dress and language. We must continually be on guard when we are visiting, even across the yards, with our neighbors. We never know when a word spoken might lead someone to want to learn more about "the way." Read about the pious woman of Joppa in Acts 9:36-42. "At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did" (vs. 36). What a tribute to be paid to someone! Also, in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 Paul wrote, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."
We must heed carefully the admonitions of scripture:
Finally, if we are not careful we can influence our brethren to do something that may violate their conscience. In 1 Corinthians 8:9, the apostle warned the brethren, "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." Something might be right for us to participate in, but if a brother or sister has genuine objections to such action and sees us doing it and is persuaded to do the same even though his conscience dictates otherwise we might be causing him to stumble. We must carefully guard against this. "But when ye sin against the brethren and wound their weak consciences ye sin against Christ" (1 Corinthians 8:12).
Those of us who teach classes have a double responsibility insofar as our influence is concerned. Our students are all looking to us as examples, and we must constantly be on guard to keep our behavior and manner of speaking in keeping with God's laws. Childrens' consciences are tender and easily influenced, and we bear the responsibility of protecting them.
Truly we influence many people as we live our lives from day to day. In 1 Peter 3:15-16 the apostle writes, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ."
Let your influence be as a Christian, not as a hypocrite.
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