“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)
The power of influence we have over others is a tremendous responsibility. Jesus discussed this in terms of our being salt and light in Matthew 5. Christians are the salt of the earth. According to one little girl in a Sunday school class — “Salt is what makes food taste bad when you leave it out.” Salt is also a preservative used to keep food from spoiling. I believe God expects us (Christians) to give flavor to life and to be the instruments in keeping the world from going bad.
We are also supposed to be the light of the world. We can no more hide our influence than a city on a hill can be hidden. We are to shine our light of influence in such a manner that people who see us will glorify God.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. When people over whom we have influence look at us or think about our lives and ministries — have we behaved in such a manner that people glorify God because of us? In Romans 15, Paul instructs us that we should be eager to do good to our neighbors in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Christians are literally supposed to inconvenience themselves in order to help someone else.
One of the problems I see is that there are people who call themselves Christians who will seek to take advantage of that spirit in others. These folks will try and use YOU for their evil purposes. They may be living in open rebellion to God and they will try and convince you that their actions and attitudes are justified so you will side with them. STOP and ask yourself this question — if I say this or do this — will others look at me as glorifying God?
Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” Note the progression — walking, standing and sitting. The sinner feels better if he/she can cause others to be engaged in his sin too. Do not allow the sin of others cause you to engage in the same sin. Romans 1:32 says, “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
Is somebody criticizing your pastor and gossiping about your church? DON’T PARTICIPATE. You may think you know all the facts — but it is likely that you don’t and by getting involved in the gossip — you are as guilty as the one spreading the lies. Unity within the body of Christ and our witness in the world is more important than selfish, prideful causes that only tear down the work of Christ. Are my actions bringing glory to God or attention to myself?
Is somebody trying to get you to take sides in an issue at work. You’ve heard their story and are ready to lead the charge against the boss and take down “THE MAN.” STOP — will this glorify God? Will your actions and words point people to Christ or will they serve to only fuel a fire that doesn’t need to be burning?
Do you see my point? Romans 14:1 says, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.” You and I should NEVER deliberately engage young Christians in arguments about difficult theological positions nor should we confuse them with obscure Bible passages in order to make ourselves look “more spiritual.” That is sin. We are — by our words and our actions — to always bring glory to God. That means we are to bring that weaker brother or sister along in the faith — building them up, encouraging them and helping them — not enlisting them in the army of the disgruntled.
Here are a few conclusions I have come to over 32 years of pastoral ministry…
ALL of us will give account of ourselves to God.
We must seek to win others to Christ and to build them up in the Christian faith.
We should NEVER willfully become a stumbling block in the way of another believer.
We cannot allow legalistic Christians to influence us too much. In the long run, we serve the cause of Christ better by being loyal to the highest we know rather than by compromising to please someone else.
Remember…Paul says we are to “receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” Is that what your actions and speech are doing today?
Have a great day.