Charles Stanley - Making a Lasting Impact
Who has had the greatest impact on your life? By impact, I mean the strongest influence, the most powerful effect upon your life. Was it somebody close to you? Who was the person or who is the person who's having the greatest impact upon your life? And I wanna ask you, would you like to have the same kind of impact on someone else's life? And has that impact been the kind that has made you a better person, or would you say that the impact they've had has hindered you in your life? And what is it about your life that has impacted you? That is, what about your life is changed as a result of that person's influence in your life? Is it your sense of direction in life? Is it the way you look? Is it the way you dress? Is it your whole perspective on life? Is it your belief system? And I would ask you this question: How did they impact you? Was it a personal relationship? Was it something you read that they wrote? Was it something you heard that they said? What is it about that person, and how did they impact or how are they impacting your life today?
Well, what I wanna talk about in this message is "Making a Lasting Impact," because that is God's purpose for every single one of us. And I want you to turn, if you will, to Matthew chapter five and the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said all of this in just a very few verses in this fifth chapter of Matthew. And so, He's begins in verse thirteen, listen: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor does anyone light a lamp, and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven".
It's clear from this passage, something that Jesus said, and then Paul picks up on in the First Timothy, the second chapter; listen to what he says. He says, "This is good and acceptable in the sight of our Lord, who desires all men and women to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth". And so He, desiring that all people become saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, how is He gonna bring that to pass? Well, how He brings that to pass is what this scripture's all about, and that is God's people making an impact upon the world in which you and I live. And this is what He's saying when He says, "You're the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world". This is His message for doing so.
So let's think about this whole issue and let's start with something right up front. First of all, get rid of the idea that you can't make an impact on anybody else. Get rid of the idea that you're not this and you're not that and you're not the other, and remember, here's what Jesus said. He didn't say, "I suggest it". He didn't say, "You ought to, you must, you should". He said, "You are the salt of the earth". You are, not you ought to be, not you should become. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. So oftentimes, when we begin a message like this, somebody says, "Well, but you know, but me". Lemme say something about you. You're a unique person, created by God for His purposes, and here's what He said: "You are the salt of the earth," which simply says it is the will of God that every single one of His children live in such a fashion that you and I impact other people for good.
That is, have a spiritual impact upon their life. That is not an option on our part. It is a command. It is the expectation of our Lord and it is a responsibility that in some fashion and some way we're to have an impact, that is, a strong influence in somebody else's life for good. And if you'll think about where that starts, of course, it starts with those closest to us, and then it goes as far as our Lord will allow us to influence or impact other people's lives. So I wanna ask you again: Who has impacted your life above everyone else? I'm not talking about God at this point, but on this earth, somebody that you know, heard, whatever it might be, who has impacted your life in the strongest fashion? It may be one or more people who've impacted or influenced your life strongly. But who is that person, who are those persons? How have they impacted you? And what are you doing in your life, and how are you impacting or influencing other people?
And you see, part of our problem is that so often, we're so self-centered and so centered about what we want to do, what we want to accomplish, and me, myself, and I, we forget that we have a mission from God to impact the people around us in some fashion that is good. And we say it is a spiritual impact, because that's what he's referring to primarily here. So, let's think about it. The power of our impact is gonna be determined by the character of our life. You can mark it down. The power of our influence and the power of our impact is gonna be determined by the character of our life. And I think the reason that Jesus used the terms He used is because He wants to make that point very strongly. He used two very distinct words in order to illustrate this mission that you and I have. Two words that are just sorta normal for us: salt, which is a very commonplace thing, and light, which we take for granted.
And so using these two words, and he uses salt, for example, because it is something different from what you put it on. In other words, salt is going to make a difference. And the power lies in what that salt is composed of. And so when we think about this, God has called all of us to be different. And you'll recall he says in Second Corinthians, the sixth chapter and the seventeenth verse, he says, "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord". That is, God expects His children to live a different kind of life than the world lives. He says we're to live a pure life. And you remember what he says in Romans chapter twelve, he says, "Stop being conformed to the likeness of the world and be transformed". That is, we're to be different. And because we're different, we will attract, we will attract.
You say, "Well, I know some folks who don't particular, not attracted to Christians," but you know what? In a way, they are. Whether they come to Christ or not, there's something about the believer who is different. And so He uses the term "salt" to say, this is your mission. You're to be like salt. That is, we are to flavor the lives of people around us in such a way, listen, with the Lord Jesus Christ in us. We're to flavor them in such a way that they too will begin to enjoy life in a way that they've never enjoyed it, because they will know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. If we are like them, they're not gonna be attracted. If we're like them, we're not gonna change them. Salt doesn't change salt. Salt flavors that which is insipid, that which is sorta empty and void of any real taste.
And so, what we wanna do is we want to have the kind of godly impact that we genuinely flavor the life of someone else. That is, they begin to be different as a result of you knowing them, relating to them, or whatever it might be. So what you have to ask is this: Whose life are you impacting? Are you just sorta walking among people, never thinking about the fact of what kind of influence or testimony you're having? Now, I wanna look at one thing right here, because when you look at this, you think, "Well, now, what in the world does this mean"? Listen to what Jesus said: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be," what? "Thrown out and trampled under men". Now, here is a warning.
Now, watch this. He says you are the salt of the earth to make an impact, whether you're a student or whether you're a mother or a father, businessman, whatever. He says, "You are the salt of the earth". And then He gives us this warning. "But if you lose your saltiness," He says, "salt that loses its taste is good for nothing but to be cast out". Now, how could salt lose its taste? Here's what He means. In those days, they gathered salt by, of course, evaporating the water, evaporated the sea water and they gathered salt. So they scraped it up and it had all kind of impurities in it. Sometimes it was dirt. And so oftentimes the salt was so mixed with impurities, it lost its twang, its power to salt. Impurities caused it to lose its power. What He's saying to us here is this.
When you and I allow sin in our life, those things in our life that make our life impure, that, listen, lessen the strength of our witness, cause our impact to be absolutely useless, here's what He says. When they gathered salt and it was so full of impurities, they threw it out in the path where people walked and they trampled on it, because that was all it was good for. And what He's saying to us is this. We have to be careful about the way we live our lives, our testimony. We have to be careful about how we live before the people, because if our impact is gonna be strong, then, listen, it must be the way we live and not just what we say. And so He gives us a warning, and that warning is: watch out, listen, watch out for the impurities that can slip into your life, whether it's dishonesty or whatever it might be, and the pressure of the world. Because you see, if we allow the pressures of the world to penetrate our life, what happens is that little by little, we begin to do what? We begin to act the way they act.
Then the world is not interested in what we have to say or what we have to do, for the simple reason we're too much like them. And see, you think about this. What happens to the whole body of Christ, what happens to a nation, to a family, what happens to a whole nation when the church loses its power to impact? Listen, when the members of the fellowship of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in a nation become so much like the world that you can't tell the difference between the church, the body of Christ, the salt and the things that are impure, what, you can't tell the difference between the sand and the salt, there's no influence and no impact.
So what you have to ask is this: Lord, is there anything in my conversation, anything in my action, any aspect of my life that before those whom I walk and with whom I fellowship or work, do they see and are they hearing anything within me that would cause the saltiness of my life to be so weak that it's making no difference and no good impact whatsoever? That's what He's talking about. When He says "trampled," listen, "trampled under the foot of men". And that means it is absolutely of no value. So, I'd ask you again: Who are you impacting? And who are you influencing, whose life? Who is watching you, listening to you? And whose life is being impacted, changed for the good as a result of the way you live and how you live it? Then you'll notice He said something else. He said you're the salt of the earth, and then Jesus said something else. He said not only are you the salt of the earth, He says, "You are the light of the world".
Now, remember what he said in First John? He said, "God is light". Then Jesus said, "I am the light of the world". Then Jesus said, "You're the light of the world". So is that a contradiction? No. I wanna show you what He says in a few moments, another verse of scripture, but what I want you to see is this. Think about the awesome compliment that is to us that God says, "I am light". He says about Jesus, "My Son is light". And then He says about all of us who've trusted Jesus as our Savior, sinners saved by the grace of God in the process of being sanctified day by day, and what does He say? "You are the light of the world". Think about that. You are the light of the world. He could not have given us a greater compliment than to say that. So, look, look, notice what He says here now.
Look at it again. He says in verse fourteen, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor does anyone light a lamp, and put it under a basket, that is, to hide it, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house". Then He says, "You're the light of the world". Then He says, "Let your light shine before men and women and young people in such a way," how? "That they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven". That is, our light is not to shine in order that people see us and glorify us and magnify us, but what? But rather that they would see Christ living within us, see the works in our life, our actions and our deeds. And as a result, see the living Christ living within us, and that He be glorified. Because you see, He's the one who draws men to Himself. He doesn't draw people to us, He draws 'em to Himself. He may use us to some degree, but He draws them to Himself.
Now, let's think about light like we thought about salt. How do we impact people? Well, think about this. First of all, certainly light is clear and pure. That is, when you look at light, it just shines. And so, we are to be that kind of a believer, a light that's pure and clear. That is, when somebody sees you, and you see this, and you hear people say, "When you see him, that's what you get. That is, when you see her, you get what you see". That is, that's the way it should be in all of our lives, that whoever knows us, whether they know us in private, in secret, they can say, "I know him, I know her, because what you see's what you get. I see him here and I've seen him there and I've seen him over here, doesn't make any difference, always the same". Because you see, light doesn't change. That is, light is clear and pure. And they should see in us a reflection of our Lord Jesus Christ. When your light is shining as bright as God wants it to shine, they're gonna feel closer to God when they're with you.
Now, you and I have to determine how bright this light's gonna shine. You think about this. The average person gets up and goes to work and does their thing. They try to steal and seek all the pleasure out of life that they can. When do they stand and sing to the top of their voice? When do they ever praise God? When are they ever released on the inside in their spirit? You know what? They live under the burden of making a living and trying to find some happiness and peace and joy and accumulate and prestige and prominence and all the rest, and you know what? You and I could let all of that stuff go, and we can praise the Lord and sing, rejoice to Him. You know what happens? The lost person in the midst of this kind of light is going to be impacted.
That's why they come and that's why they get saved. They're impacted by your life, your smile, your countenance, your joy, your friendliness, your handshake, whatever it might be, the Word of God, the music; all of this impacts them. Our light needs to shine very, very brightly. Now, again, of course, I think we have to have a little warning at this point, because when I think about that, I think about the fact, what is it that causes that light not to shine as bright? Same thing with salt: impurities make it useless. When you darken, what is it that darkens a light? Sin. I'll tell you what it's like. It's like having a lantern and you cut it on too much, and it just fills the globe with soot so it's solid black.
How much light comes out of a lantern when the whole globe is black? Not much. How much light comes out of the lantern when you cut the wick down very, very small so it's just glowing? Not much. God wants, listen, He wants a high wick and He wants a clean, listen, He wants clean glass around us. He wants our light to shine bright and He wants, listen, our life to be very, very salty. You're the light of the world. You're to make a difference. That is, He's left us here to make a difference. Why would He leave us here otherwise? Why didn't He just save us in the morning and then take us home to Heaven that night, it's all over, it's finished; why? He says, "I'm the light of the world as long as I'm in the world. I'm not in the world. You're the light of the world".
Ask yourself this question: If you're the only Christian somebody knew, would they ever want to know Jesus Christ as their Savior? By your actions, by your words, by your countenance, by what you don't say, what you do say, by the way you carry yourself, by the way you look at them, if you were the only Christian they knew, would they want who you know as your Savior? And I think about the world stumbling in darkness and groping, looking and searching for truth, hungering and thirsting and yearning. And you think about all the other religions in the world; they don't have what we have. They don't have anything close to what we have, and you know what?
This is why it's so important that God's people live godly lives. What gets their attention is the difference. Listen, what's the difference in something that is salted and something that has no flavor? What's the difference in darkness and light? He could not have used two words to more graphically describe the kind of influence and impact you and I are to have on people's lives. And what we have to ask is, is that true of us? Now, whose life or lives are you influencing strongly? Whose lives are you impacting? Well, every father and mother would have to say, "Well, I'm sure my children". Is it the best light that you can shine? Is it the purest salt that you can give them?
When I think about the two people who've most impacted my life down through the years, my mother and my grandfather. Brilliant lights, very salty. And sometime I thought my mother was real salty. But you know what? She was teaching me the truth, telling me the truth. Thank God for two people whose light and whose salt was so powerful in my life, absolutely affected everything I believe and everything I see in the Christian life. Believe God's Word; never doubt it. What kind of influence and impact are you having upon the people who are the closest to you? Then the people that you work with, and the people who are your friends? What I'm asking is this: How bright is your light, and how salty is your salt?
You see, the one thing you can't say is, "Well, I don't have any influence on anybody". Well, lemme just say this. If that's your attitude, you have a very, very negative, poor, bad influence, because what you're saying is, "I'm not anybody, I'm not important, God hasn't blessed me, it's not worth it". Or you can say, "I'm a child of God, I've been so blessed, God's strengthened me, blessed me kept me, protected me. This is what God does in my life and I'm happy to share this with you".
You see, what you have to ask is this. The first question: Who has impacted your life the most? And was that impact good or was it not so good? Because all of us, to some degree, are the product of the influence of other people in our lives. And it may, it may not be just somebody who's close to ya; it can be other people who are distant, maybe some professor or some teacher or whoever it might be. I think about the two men who've most impacted me preaching-wise, godly men whom I watched and listened, and what I heard was this, not how they prepared the sermon.
I watched one man's passion and I thought, "God, this man is excited about You". I watched another man's passion for God, for the Word of God, to get the truth to people. I don't know that they ever realize how much they impacted my life, but they did. The man who impacted my life as far as the way I would go about living my life, my grandfather. He never knew what an awesome impact he had in my life. And you know what? You don't know whose life you're impacting. What I want you to ask yourself this morning is this: God, by the life that I'm living, am I pure salt? Am I really making a difference? By the life that I'm living, is my light shining so bright, darkness has to flee?