Influence; July 5, 2019

Deuteronomy 13:6-8 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him.

My first thought in reading this section was that this was another part of the Bible I wanted to skip! However, this makes an excellent point, and it is one that tripped up even Solomon years later. That is, it is those closest to us who have the most persuasive power, either for good or for bad. Solomon, who started out so well by asking God for wisdom to govern Israel, (2 Chronicles 1:10) later showed total stupidity by allowing his foreign wives to lead him into idolatry. (1 Kings 11:1-10) It takes great strength of character to resist when a person we love and trust entices us into evil. However, the flip side of that is also true. When two people are united in the truth of God, either in marriage or in some other close relationship, they are far stronger against the attacks of the enemy than either is alone. (Ecclesiastes 4:12) It is ironic that it was Solomon, who failed so terribly, who recorded that truth! It is said that evangelism is most difficult within your own family, but that is because of the barriers within ourselves more than because of barriers between people. If we are demonstrating the Lordship of Christ in our daily lives, those closest to us will see that best, and will be most open to persuasion to receive Jesus as Lord in their own hearts. That falls apart, however, if we aren’t being faithful in our own walk, because those closest to us see that best as well. One of our church members has won her younger daughter, her brother-in-law, and most recently her husband to the Lord simply by living out her faith, and in the process overcoming severe clinical depression. All three of those family members have testified that it was seeing the reality of God in her life that convinced them He was real for them as well.

As something of a loner, my forays into rebellion against God have been all my own responsibility. However, that “loner” tendency has blunted my evangelism as well. In Japan, the strong sense of racial identity makes almost everyone see me as “other,” someone perhaps to be admired but not necessarily to be emulated. That has been a major frustration to me. I keep remembering my wife’s close friend who rejected Christ because “My ancestors weren’t Christians, and when I die I am supposed to go where they are.” When I know about heaven and hell, that is heartbreaking! Sadly, she has lost her opportunity, since she dropped dead a few years ago. I am never to stop speaking the truth in love, because I cannot know whether the Holy Spirit might use my words to get through to someone. I am to seek to be an influencer for Christ, whatever I am doing, so that as many as possible may be drawn into the kingdom of God, into His family, for their salvation and His glory.

Father thank You for this reminder. May I indeed be the “aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16) to all, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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