In Matters of Influence

by Impact Church

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works…Heb. 10:24

“One bad apple spoils the whole bunch”, one of the greatest one-liner idioms ever and certainly one of the most truthful! There are few misbehaving, rambunctious little chaps that haven’t been admonished by the adage at some point by a “smh” parent. Essentially, it expresses how the poor behavior of one negatively affects the assumed positive behavior of others. Implied also in the teaching is the weighty responsibility of rightly choosing the “bunch” that’s considered appropriate company.

At the forefront are two central tenets of Christianity: 1) the power of influence through association, and 2) the ability to discern good and evil. Centuries come and go and the experiment of mixing bad apples with good apples has recorded universally common results. The ethylene gas emitting from overly ripe fruit affects the good fruit causing it to ripen prematurely. The remedy is also singularly simple – remove quickly the overly ripe fruit from the good or suffer the loss of the entire. Both the cause and the cure have consistent patterns, thus a trusted principle is established. More importantly, a spiritual counterpart is equally true and enlightening and scriptures abound in support of the premise. (1Cor. 15:33)

Could evil’s persuasive power in leading men to destructive darkness be trumped by the power of good in leading others to propriety? Aren’t we charged as believers to be lights of the world?  Haven’t we found, even in the physical properties of flashlights and headlights, that illumination is the answer to darkness?… And haven’t direction, safety and confidence been the comforting results? Haven’t we, at night, had folks walk behind us, or ride with us in cars, sharing with them the same privileges of sight, safety and success? Should not then righteousness and good operating as light even more so disperse the baser world operating as darkness? If we answer these affirmatively and live accordingly, we could positively affect every situation and environment we enter!

Consider then the exhortation of our Hebrews 10:24 text. Provoke is an incredibly strong word; evoking a sense of awakening, agitating or stirring. The text implies that lifestyles predicated on abundant and intentional love and good deeds may even rub some folks the wrong way! Oh, and how Christ-like is that?! Furthermore, it infers that many live below their gifted ability, and a little prodding might well elevate their “wattage” to their created brightness! No common life provokes another to excellence, but an excelling one can certainly provoke an average one to the higher!

So as easy  as it is sometimes to provoke others to anger or sharpness by “pushing the buttons” of another at the climax of critical mass emotions (and don’t we excel at that?); think again how equally edifying it is to inspire love, kindness and good! Adjusting then the rheostat of our spiritual light to new levels of forgiveness, patience, encouragement and generosity is the catalyst for dynamic changes in the atmosphere of daily living! And with sanguine expectations, we’d see the spiritually sleepy rub their eyes, rise from their night of apathy and walk out in the light we’ve left them!

Yes, Jesus has left us; but He also left us the Holy Spirit! Thus He’s more than a pattern to follow; He’s equipped us also with His mind, ability and power! Living to lovingly awake the lethargic is one of the great assignments of ministry, and possibly at times an undesirable, unappreciated intrusion into private space. But remembering the grace we’ve been given and with Him in mind, our service to revive must be one of joy, hope, love and consistency!

So for His sake– nudge the nappers, pinch the sluggish, shake the distracted and inspire the dull!  And with love as our constant inspiration, go confidently in the zeal of the Spirit. The visibility of Christ’s love will always be the missionary goal of those who’ve been enlightened by Him!