Charles Stanley - The Requirements of a Godly Influence
Influence is both a responsibility and a privilege. When we think about influence, we think about the power to affect someone's life, the power to persuade someone to do this or to do that. And when you think about the billions of dollars that are spent every year by people who want to persuade us, that is to influence us. They want to influence what we eat and where we eat it; what we drink, what we wear, and how we wear it. Or what we drive, or maybe even how we vote. But people are always trying to influence us and they're spending millions and millions of dollars doing so. And you think about when you influence somebody, sometimes that influence is purposeful, sometimes it's passive, sometimes it's very good, and sometimes it can be evil. But all of us are being influenced and all of us are influencing someone else. And oftentimes it is passive, it's conscious or unconscious. That is, we consciously want to influence our children or other people, but oftentimes unconsciously without any effort on our part, we are influencing.
So, if you'll think about all of these commercials, it's all about influencing us. Well, what I want to talk about in this message is influence, but I want to talk about a godly influence. And that is the title of this message. What are the requirements in order that you and I would be a godly influence on other people? And by godly influence I mean a good influence. I mean an influence to exert that power within us to help other people understand who Jesus is and to influence them to accept Him as their personal Savior. And to influence them to grow in their understanding and knowledge of the Word of God. And to influence them to walk in a way that is godly, that is holy, that is righteous. And to influence them to serve Him and to follow Him all the days of their life. And to support His work, and to spread His message all over the world. And so all of us have a responsibility, especially as believers, to be influencers: that is exerting the power that we have.
Now that can be by our voice, by our speech, by our personality, by our possessions, by our position in life, but all of us are influencers. And in the book of Daniel, you'll find the most beautiful example of someone who indeed cast a godly influence on all those around him. And so I want you to turn if you will to Daniel, and if some of you are new believers and you don't know exactly where that is, if you look in the Old Testament there are four big prophets. There's Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and then Daniel. And in this book, there are many, many wonderful lessons, but certainly Daniel is a beautiful example of someone who exerted a godly influence on those around him. This young teenager boy, Daniel, exerted a godly influence upon his three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) upon the servants of the King Nebuchadnezzar, his son who became king, Belshazzar; and then of Darius, the Mede and then also Cyrus the Persian.
And so the truth is he exerted influence, a godly influence upon all those around him plus the nation under these four kings. You say well now, wait a minute. But I don't have that privilege. Think about this. You do have the privilege of exerting a godly influence on maybe one person, two, your friends, your family, the people you work around, your children, your grandchildren. All of us have the awesome possibility, responsibility, and privilege of being a godly influence. And I want to say to you parents right up front, You have a divine responsibility before Almighty God to exert a godly influence upon your children so that it'll be upon their children, that is, your grandchildren. Because God has given us that responsibility. And for all of us who are believers, we have this awesome responsibility and privilege, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us to give us guidance and direction and to empower us to be that godly influence among those around us.
So, what I'd like to do is I'd like to give you just a set of principles here, that is what other requirements that are necessary for us to be a godly influence, not just some influence, but a godly influence, the kind that makes a difference in a person's life today and the days thereafter. So, I want you to think first of all about this, and the first requirement is this, and that is a strong conviction about the Word of God. You must believe that this Bible is exactly what it says it is. That is this is the infallible, inerrant, listen, Word of the Living God. These are the principles by which we're to live. These are the principles by which we're going to judge.
If you don't have the basic principles of scripture, if you're listen. If you do not believe this book, if your convictions are not based on the Word of God, you're gonna be all over the place in what you believe and what you don't believe. Because here's the mistake many people make. They say, well, I do have convictions. There is a difference in basic convictions. A conviction, listen, is something that you believe in, that you're absolutely convinced and persuaded of. And so if you're going to have a godly influence on someone else, you can't be all over the table and doing or saying, well, this is what I believe versus this is how I'm living. One of the reasons so many teenagers grow up in homes and walk away from those homes where their parents claim to be Christian is because they see them talking about principles and doing what? Living by preference.
A principle says, That's my conviction. I don't change from it, I don't walk away from it, whatever the price. I may be rejected, I may, it may cost me my job or whatever, but I don't alter and I don't waver from my basic conviction. If you're going to be a godly influence, you've got to have some basic convictions over which, listen, about which you can't be bought off by acceptance. You can't be afraid and therefore give in because of somebody else's threat. So, I ask you this question: What basic principles, what basic principles do you hold so dear in your life that you would not give up under any condition? Because if we're going to be a godly influence, we must have unalterable, listen, unwavering convictions about the Word of God. Because you see a conviction, a conviction is sort of like that solid line in the highway at nighttime, on the curve. You stay on the right side, you'll be fine.
If there is no line there, then you're sort of wobbling all over the highway at nighttime just what your lights can see and all of a sudden here's a curve and you're on the wrong side. Listen, the Word of God, conviction is your safety, walking in the will of God, being obedient to Him, doing what He would have you to do. There is a second thing that's absolutely essential and that's this. You and I must be committed to the conviction. What is this I believe? Am I committed to that? It's one thing to say, well, yes, I have conviction. Do you have a conviction so strong that you're committed to it? You live by it. And no matter what somebody says or how they threaten you or whatever it might be, you hold to that. If you're not committed to your convictions what's going to happen is this. You're going to move from conviction to preference, from principles to just whatever is convenient to you. And this is why oftentimes the church is so weak today is because the unbelieving world sees us acting that way.
Now remember what Jesus said. He was very clear. In the sixteenth chapter of Matthew He said to His disciples, He says, listen, He said, "Watch out! Watch out, be careful about the influence of the Pharisees and the Sadducees because it was wrong, bad influence". On the other hand, He said in the fifth chapter of Matthew, He said, "Let your light so shine before others that they will see your good works" and then do what? "And glorify your Father which is in heaven". Will it cost you sometimes? Yes, but let me ask you a question. What are you willing to give up your convictions for? Would you give 'em up for acceptance? Would you give them up for something financial? Would you give them up for somebody's love and devotion to you? What are you willing to, what are your willing to give up to hold onto your convictions?
Your convictions about who you are in your relationship to Jesus Christ. Who you are as a child of God. Who you are in your service to Him. Are you so committed that no one has any question about the fact you not only say you believe it, they watch how you live? Well, it's certainly true of Daniel because all through the scripture what happens? He's committed. Nothing that happens. When they come to say, We're going to throw you in the lion's den because you're still praying toward Jerusalem. So be it. Nothing ever bought him off. Nothing ever persuaded him to violate the basic biblical conviction that God had built into his life as a young man. But there's a third thing I want you to notice here that's very evident when you look at his life and there are so many evidences of this. If you're going to have a godly influence, it requires courage. All the way through Daniel's life, what you see is courage.
You say, What kind of influence did he have? Well, he had three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) and you'll recall what happened. And that is that the king made this golden image. And so they said, Look, make this image and anyone who doesn't bow down when you sound the trumpet and all these things and when everybody gets the message, everybody should bow down to this image. Well, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said, We're not doing that. You know why? Listen. There's the godly influence of Daniel. Daniel said, I'm not eating the meat, drinking the wine of the king's table. They said, we aren't either. So, he said, you know what? You don't bow down to anybody but God. So, it's interesting, you recall what happens and so as a result of that you remember the king said to them, Anyone who does not bow down, here's what's going to happen. We're going to build ourselves a good furnace here and we're going to throw you and we're going to throw you and all others who do not bow down, we're going to throw you into a flaming fiery furnace.
Well, it's interesting what happens here because as a result of them not doing so, somebody told on 'em. And in this third chapter, listen what happens. Verse fourteen says, "Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, 'Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?'" So of course, that's true. Verse sixteen says, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give an answer concerning this matter". Now brother, that's fearlessness. "If it be so, our God," look at that, "if it be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king".
Now here is awesome faith. Look at this. "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.'" Let me ask you a question: Do you have any convictions? Do you have a commitment level to the Lord Jesus Christ that you would say to someone in authority over you, where you work, where you go to school? Do you have that kind of conviction and courage to say, I'm not going to do that even if it cost me my job. I'm not going to join that no matter what you think. You can reject me, you can threaten me, whatever it might be, I'm not going to violate what I know God has told me to do. How many times have I said this to you? Obey God, leave all the consequences to Him. That is exactly what they're doing. Obey God, leave all the consequences to Him.
And so the truth is we have to be men and women, young people of courage. You stand for your convictions, they're going to be tested. But let me just say this. Your children are going to follow your lead. You walk away, you bow down, you give up, you cave in, watch what happens to your children when they get in those same situations and you having had the greatest influence in their life growing up. They have watched you, they have listened to you, more than likely they're going to repeat what you say and what you do. And remember we said that influence can be passive, or it can be very purposeful. It can be conscious or it can be unconscious, but influencing we all are. And so it takes courage to stand against those kind of difficulties and hardships because they're coming in all of our lives. And when you look at his life, it's very evident what happened here and it's going to be happening to us.
Now notice something else, and that's simply this. It requires confidence in the God of scriptures. It's one thing to say, I believe the Bible, but do I have confidence in God Himself? Because God makes many promises... say "well, I believe the promise". Do you have confidence in God that if you obey Him that He assumes responsibility of your obedience? Do you believe that He will protect you in those times? Do you believe that what He says is absolutely true? Or, can you say in your heart? I have confidence in God. I'm trusting God to do exactly what He promises.
Here's what happens. You and I can talk about faith, we can talk about our influence, but God is going to test every single one of us, not once but many times. And the unbelieving world is going to watch to see do you really and truly believe these promises of scripture? Do you believe what you say you believe? Do you have confidence in God? Do they see you waver when the test gets hot? When things really get tough, do they see you with this, listen, this immovable, staunch, committed, dedicated faith in the Living God? Your confidence in Him that He's going to see you through because oftentimes our greatest moments of influence, divine influence, godly influence is when our friends or the people we work with, or the people who maybe even our enemies. When they see us going through a difficult time and really get tested, maybe some kind of public test or, or whatever it might be, and they see you immovable. They see you staunchly believing, they see you hanging in there, they see you trusting your God. And you know what they're thinking.
Here's what they're thinking. How do they hang in there when all this is going on? Huh! And you know why they ask the question? Because they couldn't. If we're going to be a godly influence, we must have unshakeable faith. Because when our faith gets shaken, and others see it shaken, and we begin to walk away and shrink back and, and we begin to deny what we believe, you know what we do? We cast a shadow on the Christian faith. We cast a shadow on the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Listen, if God is who He says He is, and He is, He is able to deliver us. And all through the book of Daniel you see this going on. His confidence is not shaken. They say, We'll throw you in a lion's den. Throw me in there, and if God wants to save me, He will. If He doesn't, He'll take me home. Put me before the king. And when you see what happened when this first issue came forward, first dream, what did Daniel do? He said to his friends, he said, Let's go to God in prayer.
And he prays this awesome prayer in this second chapter, the nineteenth verse, he said, "Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; and Daniel said, 'Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belongs to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for You've given me wisdom and power; even now You've made known to me what we requested of You, for You have made known to us the king's matter".
Listen, here's a man of confidence. He's fearless, listen, bold, crying out to God, confident. And he said to the King, We'll give you the answer. And each time there was a dream he absolutely beautifully interpreted the dream and sometimes it was an awesome answer giving words of prophecy about the future that some of us have lived long enough to see some of these things coming to pass and understanding them. The question is this: In your thinking about your relationship to God and to other people, would you say that yes, I not only have the courage, but I have confidence in my God. You see, when the test comes, whether we are real or not, whether we really have commitment, whether our convictions are really alive within us, am I willing to trust Him? When I don't have anything else I can trust, am I willing to trust Him? When I look at the situation and it looks hopeless and helpless, will I stand firm and strong based on this?
My God has made me this promise. He will never leave me nor forsake me, no matter what. Let me ask you a question. Are you being a godly influence as a result of your convictions in the Word of God, your commitment to that, your courage to stand and listen, your confidence in Him? Well, let's think about something else that's important here and that's simply this. And that is a Christ-like spirit when we're under fire. It's one thing, one thing to be calm, what's a Christ-like spirit? Here's what it is. Christ-like spirit is you forgive no matter what. No matter what, you forgive. That's a Christ-like spirit. And if you're going to have a godly influence, you've got to respond that way. Now watch. Daniel was the manipulation by some of his associates they tried to get him in a position where he would be killed because of their jealousy. You don't see or hear anything from Daniel, his animosity, unforgiving spirit, bitterness, resentment, hostility, and that.
You say, well, the Bible doesn't tell all those things. Listen, the Bible tells a lot of bad things about His servants. But Daniel and Joseph are two of the most pristine people in the whole Bible. Godly men, undergoing difficulty, hardship, all kinda things, but responding in the right way. A loving, listen, spirit of forgiveness, that's the Christ-like spirit. And sometimes our greatest influence and testimony's when people see us with a spirit of forgiveness toward others when they've wronged us. That's that Christ-like spirit. We have to forgive, and not just forgive, listen, but not retaliate, and not go...you see, this is what happens. When you go, for example, let's say suppose I had gotten upset with this man for what he did and then behind his back said, Well, you know what, he's just a bigot, he's just, he's just, he's that, mm-mm-mm, you know what, I lost my testimony right there. Everything I had built up in trying to be a godly influence, I would have lost it. And you know how we lose lot of our testimony and our influence? With our lips.
You say well, everybody's got a right to say something. Here's what you have to ask yourself the question: Am I about to lose my godly influence or am I about to nail it down solid for good? That loving forgiveness, that quiet calm spirit. And the last thing I'd mention is simply this, and that is if we're going to have a godly influence and this is where we get trapped. If I'm going to have a godly influence, I must be consistent in my walk. Now if you look at the book of Daniel and read what happens here, and there are so many wonderful things in these first six chapters. He's very consistent. Here's what I want you to see. Daniel's awesome influence, that influenced his friends, king's servants, four kings, and the whole nation was a result of not only his conviction in the Word of God, but his consistency all the way through.
Now here's what I want you to notice. Think about a child growing up in a family, and the father says this, but he does this. The mother says this, but she does that. They claim this, but they do that. Here's what goes on in a child's mind. There's this confusing thing that goes on. Here's what they say, here's what they do. I'm to trust them because they're my parents, but, but they're saying one thing and doing something else. What am I supposed to do? They claim to be a Christian, but I see these actions. They claim to be moral, but I see this pornography. They claim to be pure, but I see what they drink. They claim to be good church members, but they don't go very often. They claim to honor God, but I don't see them tithing. You see now what's going on? There's confusion.
Now just because you don't see that in your child's heart doesn't mean it's not there. I guarantee you it's there. I've heard enough over all these years to know children are confused. And that's when they lose their desire to do the things of God, they lose their desire to be saved. They lose, in other words, why should I follow this Jesus? He can't do any more in my parents' life, what about my life? You say, well, I'm not responsible for what my kids do. They're eighteen, nineteen, twenty. Oh, yes you are! Because you laid a foundation. And you know what, they just built the same stuff into the rest of their life that you built in there to begin with.
Now I do understand that parents can be their best sometimes and for some reason the child goes off in some other direction. I do understand that. There are exceptions to that. But what I'm simply asking you is this: By the life that you live, if I were to ask your children, did your parents give you a godly influence? What would your children say? Because you see, it doesn't make any difference what you and I say. When somebody asks me about my past life or something I say, You know what? The best thing for you to do if you want to know the truth, go ask my children. 'Cause you know what? They are going to be dead honest.
Would your children say you were a godly influence in their life? I just want to ask you as a parent. You can't shirk this responsibility and you cannot escape the consequences. Are you being a godly influence on those precious gifts of God, given to you to raise? Listen. Will your children grow up trusting Jesus early in life as their Savior? Will they grow up desiring to be like you spiritually? Will they grow up desiring to go to church, desiring to be baptized? Will they grow up desiring to serve the Living God? Will they grow up with this hunger and thirst to know Him? Will they grow up reading the Bible on their own? Will they grow up knowing how to pray? Will they grow up seeking God's will for a marriage partner? Will they grow up committed to living by those basic principles of scripture? Will they grow up defending the Word of God? Will they grow up with a sense of confidence that God is in control of their life? Will they grow up with a sense of unshakeable confidence that God will accomplish His purpose and plan in their life? All of this can be your heritage, your gift to your children when you exert to them a consistent godly influence.