“THE POWER OF INFLUENCE”                         By Pastor YAU

Text: Matthew 5:13-16                                           March 25, 2007

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)      A personal story: A writer shared his experience like this: “On February 9, 1964, the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and captivated millions of American youth. After hearing their music and seeing their “look”, I did what all American boys did---begged my parents to let me grow my hair. Then along with my best friends I started a garage band. The Beatles’ appearance and their music had such an impact on us that we intentionally tried to be like them. It is a vivid example on the power of influence.

2)      The story continued: “Years later,” the writer continued his story, “the power of influence came on me again, except this time it meant something far more important then that of the Beatles. I had trusted in Jesus and wanted to be like Him. I had the desire to live under His influence. I also wanted to model Jesus so others may also believe in Him. In part, this is what Jesus wanted all of us to be. He wanted us to be light and salt to our world. Light and salt are influencing factors in this world which is full of darkness and corruption.”

 

WHY IS INFLUENCE POWERFUL?

1)    Because it is human nature: All of us were born with many natural abilities and one of them is to imitate or learn form others. As a child, we learn or imitate our parents. Grow little older, we learn from teachers. Still growing older, we learn from friends or successful people like sport and movie stars or powerful people whom we admire. Our admiration on these people inspires us to dress like them, act like them, speak like them and even live like them. We just want to be like them as much as we can.

2)    Because of the empty heart: When a glass is full, no one can pour anything else into it. But if it is not full, it is receptive to invasion. Our hearts work the same way. When a heart is empty, it becomes a receptacle for anything that comes its way. This is true to people of all age, class, education or status. Man is continuously seeking to fill up the vacuum of his heart with things that are available to him. Therefore, an empty heart is a dangerous situation for anyone. We all need to take care of our heart and fill it with worthy things.

3)    Because of attraction: The fact that millions of American youth were influenced by the Beatles almost half a century ago and still are being influenced by Hollywood stars or magazine cover personalities is because these people had and still have some attraction on our youth. Attractions of beauty, success, money and fame are only a few of them. This is also true with good influence. People who are good in things are attractive too such as sports, academic, business, character, marriage and raising good kids and those who are in leadership position among other things are objects of imitation. They have the power to influence others.

4)    Because it brings satisfaction: We all see that influence brings results be it good or bad. On the bad side, parents are cautious on things and people that influence their kids. On the good side many stories of success and change for the better are resulted from positive influence by role models. So we have Big-brother and Big-sister program in the community and youth programs in churches. Countless people have testified how their lives were changed by those who influenced them with their words and deeds. It is the satisfaction of having positive results on others that keep the volunteer coaches, youth workers and many others continue to give, to lead, to sacrifice and never get tired.

 

THE JESUS KIND OF INFLUENCE:

1)   It begins with self giving: In Jesus time, lights were made possible by burning oil, mostly olive oil. In order to give light, one must be willing to burn oil. When salt is added to food for whatever purpose, one thing must happen: melt and disappear. Both take self giving or sacrifice to happen. When Jesus symbolized Christian influence in this world as light and salt, He had in mind that we must be willing to sacrifice to achieve the goal. Too many people want to influence others for their own purpose or gain, but Christian influence is self giving just as did Jesus some 2,000 years ago that millions have found forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God in eternity.

2)   Then it is demonstration: Here is what Jesus said. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (5:4-5) No one may achieve the function of being a light if he hides himself in a corner or a closet without coming out and engage in the real world. We all are lights, big or small. We all have our own house to give our light as God has intended. But too many Christians just hide themselves behind many excuses and never allow their light to be seen to lead others to know God.

3)   It adds good taste to life:  An electric appliance company used a slogan in their commercial to sell their products and that slogan is “We bring good things to life.” While their products may help to add good things to life, Christians, if faithfully discharging their lives as salt, we add good taste to every life. Just imagine how food may taste without the taste of salt. Many good tastes are illustrated in the fruits of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Galatians 5:22-23. They are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” With all these positive and sweet tastes, life is more worth living.

4)   It keeps corruptible incorruptible: Too many negative influences are corrupting our youth as well as adults. Movie stars and sports heroes who live shameless and reckless life have corrupted many lives. The death of a former Playboy magazine playmate just the week before this message was written on February 14 and how it becomes media frenzy is one vivid example of the corrupt condition of this world. Being the salt of this world, Christians are to live our life to prevent corruption from happening and to heal the wounds caused by corruption.

 

HOW TO CHOOSE INFLUENCE? Before you put yourself under some influence, ask yourself the following questions:

1)    First, if it is biblical? Before you put yourself under the influence of someone or something, ask yourself if this influence is biblical, be it an action, some value, a direction or a thought. Go back to the Bible to measure all influences that come your way. Ask this question: “What would Jesus do in this situation?” We are saved by the teaching of the Bible. We also live our life by the principles of the Bible. Will God and His word approve this?

2)    Secondly, if it is moral? We all have been given something we call conscience and we live in communities that accept social norms. Before you accept or follow any influence, ask this question: if this is right in your heart, right in the eyes of the majority of your family and community, right with the Law of the land and right in the eyes of those who truly love you. Don’t put yourself as the sole judge on this. You are bias to make any sound judgment when you are under the power of corruptible influence.

3)    Thirdly, if it is helpful? Helpful for your Christian life, helpful to your reputation, helpful to your daily walk with God, helpful to your service in God’s church, helpful to your being a productive member of your family, your church and your community or helpful to your character, health, relationship, self image and many other things that related to a healthy Christian life. If any influence is harmful to any of the above, reject them and run away.

4)    Finally, if it glorifies God? Paul gave the Corinthian Christians a simple principle to follow when making choices in 1 Corinth. 10:31, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” We do not live our life for our own but for God. When we submit our life to some influence, will we live, act, pursue or direct our life that God will receive glory and honor from this? This has to do with the ultimate rewards we may receive in heaven.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Keep your eyes open: Visible and invisible, there are many powers of influence in the world we live. We need to keep our eyes open, especially the spiritual eyes, to discern their nature and direction. Make sure you choose the right kind of influence to grow your life and glorify God.

2)   Keep your heart open: If you are being influenced by worldly or sinful power, open your heart to God, ask Him to give you strength so you can runaway from it. Give the seat in your heart to God and He will lead you out of the bondage of the evil power.

3)   Keep yourself saved: When you ask Jesus into your heart, you won’t have room for evil or undesirable influence. He will fill your heart with joy, peace, hope and many other spiritual blessings. Ask Him now and receive from Him eternal life with God.