Our lives are not lived alone. We influence everyone around us for good or bad. What we sow into lives will be reaped long past our physical lives.
“Soon I will be dead and you will be too. We can’t control that fact, but we are in complete control of the influence we leave behind.”
I used to have a timeline from Barnes and Noble that looked like a book but when it was opened, the pages unfolded like an accordion into one long page that was about eight feet long. It started with Adam and ended with George Bush and whoever else was alive at the time. It was amazing to see all of humanity represented in such a small space. Also, no matter how famous or great the people on the timeline were, they had one thing in common…about 99% of them were dead. It’s the great leveler of humanity. Soon I will be dead and you will be too. We can’t control that fact, but we are in complete control of the influence we leave behind.
Name your great-grandmother. Can you? Some people can, but name your great great grandmother. Fewer can name her and almost no one can name their great great great grandmother, yet you had one. She poured her life into something and she affects you even though you have no idea who she was. How can I confidently say this?
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Those scriptures start with making idols and end with the long term repercussions of what we choose to love during our lives. We will either love God or hate God. There isn’t a middle ground.
When we have idolatry in our lives, God becomes an enemy because we will cling to our idol and turn away from God. We can’t cling to both.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
“We have to choose who will be number one in our lives. We can love many other things and people but they have to be loved less than God.”
The word “hate” can be translated as “love less, esteem less.” We have to choose who will be number one in our lives. We can love many other things and people but they have to be loved less than God. That scripture ends with money but it is actually talking about being totally devoted to anything that could master us. We can’t serve two masters wholeheartedly, it’s impossible. We will end up serving the one we esteem (prefer) more.
A few examples of modern day idols:
- Husband or wife
- Social media
Let’s fill in the blanks with a couple of those idols:
We will love our children and prefer them over God. We cannot serve both God and our children. We will end up devoted to our children and despising the God who has control of their safety and future.
We will love our reputation and prefer it over God. We cannot serve both God and our reputation. We will end up devoted to what people think of us and despising the God who knows the truth about us.
“However, when our love for anything surpasses our love and devotion to God, God becomes a threat.”
Should we love our children and want a good reputation? Of course we should. However, when our love for anything surpasses our love and devotion to God, God becomes a threat.
“When we idolize people, we destroy ourselves and them.”
He is in complete control of our children, our spouses, our health, our wealth and our reputation. When that thought starts to terrify us instead of comfort us, we can know idolatry is creeping into our hearts. When we turn from serving God to serving our idol, the idol becomes our reason for living. That means we have turned from the only source of Love, Light and Life. To give our whole heart to anything other than Him means we hook up to darkness (even if that source is a precious child). When we idolize people, we destroy ourselves and them.
“Only God is worthy of having everything there is to give.”
Those truths are the reason God says in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 to love Him with ALL our heart, soul and strength. We aren’t capable of loving God a little bit. When it comes to Him, it’s all or nothing. His very nature demands it. He is not like any other thing in the universe. Only God is worthy of having everything there is to give. His commands draw a line in the sand and say, you have to cross over, you can’t straddle the line. He makes no apology and He doesn’t need to. All He writes in His Word is what is truly right. It’s right whether we agree or whether we walk away. God’s Word is not neutral. It is Reality.
This takes me back to influence. As I looked intently at my timeline, I noticed how much space approximately 70 years (a normal lifespan, give or take a little) took up. It was less than an inch. My life and yours will take up less than an inch on an eight foot timeline. Or as God puts it, our life is a vapor.
As I read through the Old Testament, I see a phrase that stops me in my tracks and proves the point I’m making.
I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.
2 Kings 19:34
“In small and large ways, our influence will touch people until time stops.”
God fought a battle for the sake of Jerusalem and for the sake of His servant David over 200 years after David’s death. David wasn’t a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination but he is described as “a man after God’s own heart.” If you are reading this, it’s not too late for God to describe you that way. David has been gone for almost three thousand years, but his star still flies on the flag over Jerusalem. His faithfulness still influences Israel (and me) today. That’s the reason Judgement Day can’t come until time ends. In small and large ways, our influence will touch people until time stops.
“We are made in the image of God and it pleases Him when we long to be great for His Name’s sake.”
Most of us will never have a flag flying over a country, but we can be great and famous in our own family line. We are made in the image of God and it pleases Him when we long to be great for His Name’s sake. Our descendants may not remember our names, but two hundred or even two thousand years from now, they can still be influenced by our faithfulness.
That’s the kind of “influencer” I want to be.