Charles Stanley - The Circle of Our Impact
How do you view the purpose of your life? You say, "Well, you know, what do you mean, the purpose of my life"? Well, do you see as the purpose of your life just enjoying life? Or maybe being good to others? Or maybe you feel like you have some mission in life. Or it just may be that your purpose in life is to survive. Your situation, your circumstances are such that you feel such difficulty and hardship every single day. If you can just survive this day and one more week, that seems to be your purpose in life. Or it just may be that you have some goals in life that you'd like to accomplish and achieve. Or it might be that your purpose in life is to fulfill God's purpose and His will for your life.
One of the tragedies is that so many people live their lives with no purpose. They have a purpose today and a purpose tomorrow and a purpose next week and next month, next year, but somehow no real genuine purpose for living. So, if you were to ask them, "What are you living for"? They would give you several reasons, probably, but only a child of God who understands what the Christian life is all about, who understands what life is all about and God and His purpose and plans for us, would say to you, "I'm living to fulfill His purpose and His plan for my life". Because you see, if you'll think about how much God has invested in your life: the skills, the abilities, the talents. And why did He invest all of that in you?
In order to do something in you and to do something through you and to achieve something in His relationship with you. God has a plan and a purpose for every single one of us. And the sooner we find out what that is, all of a sudden, our purpose in life becomes very, very certain and definite. You don't waste time; you don't waste your efforts; you don't waste your finances. Listen, you begin to live life with a very specific purpose. Now, some people are very passive in their life. They just sorta live their lives, and they're going here and yonder and doing this, that, and the other and so forth, and their life is rather narrow. It may be wide when it comes to the spectrum of where they go, but as far as what they achieve and accomplish in life that has any lasting value whatsoever.
Well, what I wanna talk about in this message is "The Circle of Our Impact". That is, all of us make an impact. All of us have some kind of influence. Now, there are lots of people who live just to make an impression by what they do. God wants us to live to make an impact, to have a strong, listen, a very strong influence on those about us. And so I want you to turn to Matthew chapter five, if you will, because Jesus makes it very clear in this passage when He gives us a mandate about how we ought to live. And so in Matthew chapter five, He begins in verse thirteen. This is the second message in this two-part series on "The Believer's Impact". And we talked about "Making a Lasting Impact," and today, "The Circle of that Impact".
That is, how far and wide does this impact and influence of our life go and how does it get there? Well, here's what he says, beginning in the thirteenth verse, the fifth chapter of Matthew. He says, "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". He says, "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," He says, "your Father who is in heaven".
Now, that's a very simple mandate from Him. Listen to what He says. "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world". He didn't say, "I would suggest that you be, you might be, you could be". For every single believer, the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Now think about it for a moment. To make an impact, to be an influence, He said, salt. Salt flavors, it preserves, it penetrates, it spreads. It makes a difference on everything you place it. And the scripture says the only thing that can make it powerless, salt, Jesus said, is impurities. That is, oftentimes when they gather the salt, they'd gather the dirt in with it, and so it became very impure. And He says it's tasteless. That is, they threw it out on the paths and people would walk on it. And so He says the only thing that can make that salt like that is impurities.
The only thing that causes the saltiness, the impact and the influence of our life to be diminished, are those things in our life that do not belong there. Sin in our life will cause our life to be the same as impurities in salt: rather tasteless, impure, no power, and therefore ineffective. Then He said, "You're the light of the world". Remember that Jesus said, "As long as I'm in the world," He said, "I'm the light of the world". But He says, "I'm going to be with the Father," which He did. Sits at the Father's right hand. So now, He says, you're the light of the world. That is, every single believer has the Lord Jesus Christ living inside of him and her, and we are the light of the world. He says, "You're the Body of Christ".
Now, while we are not the light itself, we really reflect Him. That is, the moon has no light of itself; it's a reflection of the light of the sun. We are like the moon: we reflect the light of the Lord Jesus Christ. He's living on the inside of us. By our conversation, our conduct, our character, we reflect the Christ who lives within us. And therefore, He says, "You're the light of the world". Now, light reveals what's there. It also drives out darkness. It points the way on the pathway, and it warns us of incoming dangers. The same thing can happen to us in this particular illustration, as sin does in the life of the believer when we talk about him being salt. Because you see, what sin does, it diminishes the rays of the light. Sin is like the soot on the globe of the lantern, and that is, the more that's there, the less you have the light you're able to see.
And so sin doesn't fit the believer, because it diminishes our effectiveness, our impact, our influence in the lives of others. He says we're the salt of the earth and the light of the world. That is, we're to make an impact, we're to be influential in the lives of other people. And there are so many people who are just willing to live their life very, very simple and very, very secluded; that is, don't bother me with the issues of life. They're interested in their needs, their desires, their hungers, their thirst, where they wanna go, what they wanna do.
So their life is really rather narrow in their thinking, while geographically it may cover a lot of territory. But in their mind, their spirit, their soul, their very being, they walk among people day by day, they have absolutely no interest whatsoever in influencing and impacting anybody for good. "Just leave them alone, just let me live my life the way I wanna live it. As long as things are going my way, I'm not really concerned about the issues in other people's lives. Totally irrelevant to reality". Jesus didn't say, "I suggest that you be salt and light". He said, "You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world".
That is, you are to make an impact, you are to be influential. People's lives are to be changed for good because you and I are here. Remembering that Jesus Christ, living His life in us and through us is going to make an impact, it's going to be influential wherever we are. For example, when a parent purposes to teach their children certain principles for the simple reason they want them to be godly children, that's purposeful impact. We're talking about believers. We're talking about the people Jesus was addressing when He said, "You're the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world".
So, I want to ask you this question. Whose life is your life impacting? Whose life is your life influencing for good, a spiritual influence in their life? What difference does it make that somebody met you? What difference is it making in somebody's life because they know you? Because they watch you, because they hear you, because they are observing you? What difference does it make in anybody's life that you're alive, that you're around them, that they're around you? What difference does it make?
Then ask yourself this question: Who is influencing your life? What's their conversation about? What is their conduct? How could it be described? And what about their character? Who have you allowed to influence you? Who have you allowed to impact your life? Who is making a difference in your life? And the question is, is it for good or is it for evil? Is someone impacting and influencing your life to the point that they're drawing you away from the things of God? Or is their influence and impact in your life drawing you closer to Him, creating a deeper hunger, a deeper thirst, a deeper yearning in your heart for Him? What kind of impact, what kind of influence are we having, and what kind are they having upon us?
Well, it's certainly evident from scripture that Jesus did not intend for us simply to be salt and light in our little container, but rather, listen, that we're to have a circle of impact. And when I think about it, I think about it in this light. For example, you stand at the edge of the lake, and let's say you take a little stone or a pebble and you toss it into the water. What happens? Well, there's a bloop, and then all of a sudden there are these little circles that...little circles, little ripples that go out, and they go out further and further and further till finally the water's calm again. Now, depending upon the size of the pebble, if it's just a small pebble, there are a few ripples. If it's a larger one, there are more ripples. If it's a big rock, lots of ripples, and they go a long ways.
And when you think about the kind of life Jesus intended for us to live, He intended for us to live the kind of life, listen, not like grains of sand dropped in the water. How much of a ripple does a grain of sand cause? Almost none. Just slight. Are you satisfied living the kind of life where the ripples of your life, the impact of your life, the influence of your life is like a grain of sand? Or do you want it to be like a brick? Or maybe like a large stone. Or do you want it to be like a mountain? That your life causes such ripples, such waves, it's like a tidal wave in somebody's life. But surely you don't want to live your life without having a good influence and a good impact on somebody.
Now, somebody says, "Well, I just don't know how far and wide my testimony, my witness, my life, I don't know about myself". Let me how tell ya how to simplify that. I wanna talk to you about some ways that you can make, watch, you can make that little ripple of you've been living to yourself, "me, myself and I, and what interests me what's concerns me," and you sorta go it out about right here. You want it to go further and further and further. You want the tiny ripples, listen, to become waves. You want the waves to be, listen, to become tidal waves in somebody's life. It doesn't mean you'll circle the globe with your influence, but you don't know that. You want to get out of the rippling business and get in the wave business with your impact and influence?
Well, let's start with something that you can do, something very simple. A way that God has made it possible for every single one of us, every single one of us to have the impact of our life to be much, much further and to go in wider circles than we'd ever believe. For example, let's just take praying. Do you believe God answers prayer? Yes. Do you believe that your prayer can touch somebody in any part of the world or up in space when they're there? Yes. Do you mean to tell me that you believe that when you talk to God, that God will hear your prayer and impact, answer your prayer, and impact and influence somebody else's life? Yes! Then how far can the ripples and the circles of your impact go? To the ends of the earth, to the ends of the earth; on your knees to the ends of the earth.
You can reach the, listen, you can reach the uttermost parts of the earth in your living room, in your bedroom, in your prayer room, wherever you're praying, somebody that you wanna pray for, somebody whose life is to be changed. You want your life to count strongly, impacting people's lives? Then get busy doing the one thing that you know can absolutely impact a person's life as much as anything else you can do, and that's talking to God, who's Almighty. Hears your prayers and reaches down in our life and changes their life. Then there's the spoken word. You can impact people's lives oftentimes with a very few words. And sometimes, here's what it's like.
You go to a person, you see that they're depressed and they're down in the dumps, and they're wringing their hands over things in their life, and you say to them, "I just want you to know that I love you and appreciate you. I know you're going through a tough time in your life. I'm praying for ya. And you know what? You're gonna make it. You're gonna make it. God's gonna help you. He's gonna encourage you. He knows your needs. He's gonna meet every single need that you have. You can rest assured, He's gonna do it because He loves you".
You say, "Well, what difference does it make if I tell somebody that"? Let me ask you a question. Put yourself in their position. You're down in the dumps, you can't pay your rent, you can't pay your car payment, your husband's walked away, your wife's walked away, you don't have any idea what to do next. And somebody walks up to you and tells you that. The impact of words. Sometimes it's simple. Sometimes it may be longer. Sometimes it may be a message that you hear, or a message that you give, but it's making a difference. You want to make an impact? Think about this. When you and I come to fellowship every single Sunday or whatever church you may belong to, and you give for the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in that church, what happens? The testimony and the witness goes out. And how far does it go?
You'll never be able to measure it. But it goes far more than you realize and further than you realize, because your impact, your testimony, your witness through someone else is getting the gospel where you'll never be able to go. Don't ever underestimate, listen, the scope and the circle of influence that you can have, whether it's in your business or whatever it is. If you do it for the glory of God, it's the purpose of, listen, of being obedient to God. He says you're salt and you're light. He doesn't expect us to all do the same thing. There are many things, many skills that I do not have, most of which I do not have, but other people have that can use them for the glory of God, who can make an impact. Listen, the world may not know about them by name. God knows about ya.
And the thing that matters is that God knows what you're doing, and what you're doing is you're doing what? You're being salt where God intends you to be salt. You're being light where God intends you to be light. And when I think about what this is doing around the world, it's driving darkness out of the lives of hundreds and thousands of people. And one of these days, listen, they're gonna be millions of people online, why? Because there is a hunger for God. There is a hunger to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. There is a hunger in the world today because of so much heartache and problems and difficulties and pain and suffering and poverty and sickness and all the rest, disease. People are more open to the gospel than ever before. That means, listen, we have the greatest opportunity to be salt and light that we have ever had in our entire life.
Where do you start? You start right where you live, and with your skills and abilities and talents. And listen, God expects and intends for the circle of your impact, watch this now. He intends for the circle of your impact to go as far and as wide as the abilities, skills, talents, and gifts and opportunities He gives you. That means that some peoples' will go further than others. But that also means that the more gifts and talents and skills and opportunities you have, the more responsibility you have. And I think about oftentimes how especially mothers feel like, "Well, you know, what impact can I have"? You know, got dish, I used to say washing dishes, now it's dishwasher, clothes, I mean, you know, cleaning the house and all the things that happen. And you, sometimes you have to work and so forth.
And you know, naturally, I have to think about my mom, naturally. The kind of impact my mother had on my life, can't even describe it. Absolutely impacted my life like no other person. You know what? She only went to the sixth grade, so it wasn't a lot of knowledge she taught me, but it's what I saw and what I felt, absolutely impacted my life forever. Worked in a textile mill, made nine dollars and ten cents a week for forty hours. Kept clothes on our body, a little food in the refrigerator. But you know what she did? Nobody knows Rebecca, but I know her. And she so impacted my life that it would never have even, I would never have considered not being obedient to God and to fulfill His purpose and plan for my life. I saw it in her.
When she had nothing, she was faithful, loyal, obedient to the Living God. Knelt down beside me every single night that I could remember and prayed with me. How did she teach me to pray? Not by telling me about it; by feeling her presence beside me. That was when I was a kid. I grew up, college kid come home, come in the house. Before I went to bed at night, my mom was on her knees beside me, praying, talking to God, calling my name, which I can still hear. Who knows Rebecca? That's not the issue. The issue is one mother, who was a working mother. We call 'em today single mothers. Whatever you call it, that's not the issue. The issue is this: impact, salt, light. Not a choice, but a mandate.
Now, somebody says, "Well, well, how will I ever know how far my impact and my circle of impact, influence has gone"? You'll never know, and let me remind you of something else: it's none of your business. It's none of your business how far it goes. Well, you see, we like to count, we like to chalk up victories and talk about this and successes. You know what? None of that's scriptural. What do we do? We live it out every day. We just obey Him every day. We just let Him live His life through us every single day. You know what, He's the one who does the counting. And besides that, you can't count anyway. How do you count the impact and influence in lives of people that...who will never tell ya? And who might, listen, who may not even realize it till later in life?
I'm simply saying this. Don't miss the privilege every day of allowing Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to live His life in you and through you in such a fashion that people who meet us will want to know the source of our strength, the light of our life, the water of our soul, the joy of our heart, and the peace and tranquility that absolutely captivates us every single day. That's what He asks us to be. He says, "I want you to be salt and to be light". And the question is, how would you describe the strength of your salt? How would you describe the brightness of your light? Are there things in your life that's causing your salt to be impure? Weak witness. Causing your light to be dim? Poor witness. Then clean it up. Ask Him to cleanse your life and tell Him you want the wick of your lantern to burn brightly, the salt of your life to be strong and powerful.
Then you let Him decide how far and wide it goes. Don't try to count, don't try to measure. It's absolutely impossible. It'll only be measured in full when you and I stand in the judgment of Christ and give an account for our life. And, my, are we gonna be shocked. We may be shocked by the opportunities that we missed, and maybe we'll be shocked at least a little bit by the opportunities we took advantage of.
There's gonna be an accountability day one day. The last thing you want to happen is to live your life and stand before the Son of God, Jesus, who laid down His life at the cross because He loved you, and you look back and realize you wasted the most awesome opportunity given to anyone, to bear witness in some fashion to one more many multitudes of who Jesus Christ is. You are salt and you are light, and the question is: Are you willing, for Him, to be as salty as you can be, as bright as you can be, that the circle of your impact will go beyond your fondest dreams and imagination?
And Father, how grateful we are. You gave us such a very simple verse of scripture when You said we're salt and light. All of us can somehow relate to that. And it is my prayer today that the Holy Spirit will just simply sink this message so deep that even before we leave this place today, we'll be sensitive to people around us; that as we go to work tomorrow morning, we'll go recognizing that You desire to live Your life through us; that with the purity of our heart and our motive, we'll be excited about seeing what You're gonna do in and through us, in the lives of other people, not just today or tomorrow or next week or next month or next year, but the rest of our life and for all eternity. In Jesus's name, amen.