by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: II Chronicles 13:4-12
I. Most Americans tend to have an independent streak.
A. We would like to think that we think for ourselves.
B. As Christians, we aim to influence those around to do good.
C. But influence is not a one-way street.
II. Our thoughts are shaped by many things
1. Seth was a son in the likeness of his father - Genesis 5:3
2. Influencing for good through the teaching of God’s law - Proverbs 3:1-4; 6:20-22
3. The bad influence of parents on their son - I Kings 22:51-53
4. Such can flow from generation to generation - II Kings 17:41
5. Young people, formulating their own ideas, are particularly vulnerable to influence.
a. It was a contributing factor to the downfall of Rehoboam - II Chronicles 13:6-7
b. But it can build a lasting impression for good as well - Proverbs 22:6
c. We have to be careful how we influence the young, whether physically young, or young in the faith - Matthew 18:6-7
B. Teachers then have influence on students - Luke 6:39-40
1. Hence the care we must take in selecting who teaches our children
2. And who teaches us
3. It is why we must carefully consider ourselves when teaching - James 3:1
C. Companions, those with whom we associate, influences us
1. For good or evil - Proverbs 13:20
2. We are influenced by our environment - I Corinthians 15:33
3. Anger can be learned by influence - Proverbs 22:24-25
4. And what closer companion is there than our spouse? - I Peter 3:1-2
D. Our environment
1. What we pursue influences us - Luke 11:33-36
a. “We know that some adolescents will initiate alcohol use, some adolescents will initiate tobacco use and some adolescents will initiate sex’ based on what they see in entertainment.” [Most popular films portray risky behavior, study says.” The Los Angeles Times, in the Omaha World-Herald, 10 December 2013].
b. “TV may create the illusion that sex is more central to daily life than it truly is and may promote sexual initiation as a result, a process known as media cultivation.” [Rebecca Collins, “Watching Sex on Television Predicts Adolescent Initiation of Sexual Behavior”, Pediatrics, Vol. 114, No. 3, 1 September 2004].
2. In turn we ought to influence those around us - Matthew 5:14-16
3. A cheerful look and good news improves our outlook - Proverbs 15:30
III. While we may be shaped by what is around us, some things must not be allowed to influence us
A. The Jews were warned not to let the surrounding culture influence their worship - Deuteronomy 12:29-32; 18:9-12
B. Solomon’s wives led to his downfall - I Kings 11:1-8
C. In the fall of Israel we find them wanting to be like the nations around them - Ezekiel 20:32
D. Religious leaders ought to be influencing the people, but we find the opposite happening - Hosea 4:9
E. As a result God found Israel to be half-baked - Hosea 7:8
F. It caused early disciples to stray - Galatians 1:6-10
G. Donald Carson, From Triumphalism to Maturity, p. 40, “We find it easier to interpret the gospel in terms of our received culture that the other way around ... The gospel will purify and transform any culture; or, more accurately, the gospel will purify and transform the people from any cultural heritage who bow unreservedly to Jesus Christ. By this means it will modify or eliminate many of the culturally transmitted values of those new Christians; and they in turn may in some measure influence their culture and society as salt exerts its influence in food (cf. Matthew 5:13). But there will always be some who are controlled by a light ‘Christianized’ version of their own culture; i.e., their controlling values spring from the inherited culture, even when such values are deeply pagan and not Christian.”
H. Such happens today. The arguments about evolution, abortion, the existence of hell, living together without marriage, homosexuality, and such like do not spring from difficulties in understanding what the Bible says. It represents the clash of cultural values coming against the unyielding truth found within the Scriptures. Most seek to modify the Bible’s teachings to be acceptable to society instead of insisting that society conform to the will of God.
IV. Christians are to shine as lights - Philippians 2:15-16
A. But we need to understand that all will not yield to our influence - II Corinthians 2:15-17
B. We should seek out a good reputation - I Corinthians 10:31-33
C. As church in the past, we should be a good influence - I Thessalonians 1:6-8; Romans 1:8
V. May you be a refreshing spirit to those you meet - I Corinthians 16:18