Last month we discussed the topic of “Outward Influences.” In that article we defined outward influences, and delved into how important it is to reflect on the outward influences we each have had that has affected who we are today – both positively and negatively.
I've had a great deal of negative outward influences in my life, but God has also blessed me with a lot of wonderful people in my life who have been powerful positive influences. Many of them have helped me identify the lies that were slowly and systematically destroying the person God created me to be; and, assisted me in replacing those lies with God’s life-saving truths. The Bible gives us many examples of how other people can be influencers for either good or evil:
- In Mark 15 we read about Jesus when He was brought before Pontius Pilate for sentencing. In verse 11 we read how the chief priests incited the mobs of people to shout for the release of Barabbas (a murderer), and how they demanded Pilate to crucify Jesus.
- King Solomon was one of the wisest and richest men in the Bible. He started out on the right track, but in 1 Kings 11:4 we read … “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God like the heart of David his father had been.” (NIV) This illustrates how Solomon’s many wives, who happened to be idol worshipers, turned his heart away from the one true God.
Last month we provided you with definitions and explanations for the terms “Modeled Behavior,” “Point Behavior,” and “Incidents.” Now, we’ll provide you with applicable examples for each of the terms. A “Modeled Behavior” in your life might be how your father treats your mother. Does he bring her flowers every Friday night as a small token of his love for her and appreciation for all she does for the family; or, does he come home drunk every Friday night belittling and screaming at her? Another example might be how a teacher disciplines two of your classmates. Does he/she speak to them about the problem at hand privately outside of the classroom; or, does he/she mock and demean them in front of the entire class? These are situations in which you are just an observer. Yet, subconsciously these situations instill ideals of some sort into the human belief systems.
A good illustration of the “Pointed Behavior” that we described in last month’s blog might be how your mother treats you. Does she regularly tell you that she loves you; or, does she call you bad names and say things like she wishes “you were never born?” Another pertinent example might be how your husband treats you. Does he comes home late from work and apologize for his tardiness; or, does he come home late and beat you because his dinner is cold. A great deal of our beliefs stem from behavior that is pointed towards us.
“Incidents” are often called "acts of God," "strokes of luck," "coincidences," or "accidents." An example of an Incident might be something good or bad that your grandparents have experienced. Maybe, as a golden anniversary gift someone gives them an all-expense-paid vacation to the Bahamas. Or, maybe they might fall victim to identity theft and lose their entire savings at the hands of someone who preys on the elderly. There are many other scenarios such as a neighbor's child dies, or a family member gets a divorce. Often unbeknownst to us, these things affect us greatly and permeate the structure and foundation of our ideals. Those are indirect examples, but here is a direct example of some incidents that might affect your permanent behaviors and even your personality: You work diligently, day and night, on a school project which leads to your receiving a full scholarship to an Ivy League university. Or, maybe an intoxicated driver of a car full of drunken college kids hits you, leaving you paralyzed for the next 12 months.
All of the aforementioned circumstances can be either greatly encouraging or severely traumatic. Incidents that occur in our personal lives, as well as in someone else’s life, cause us to form beliefs about how God interacts within our world. Often, if something good happens, we believe that God is good. If something bad happens, we believe that God does not exist or doesn't really care.
This month I would like you to take some time to think about your own life. And then, write down some of the outward influences that may have affected who you are. Then write down what you learned from that influence. Was it positive or negative? What did you learn about God, yourself and others? Sometimes we have been so deeply affected by some of the negative influences in our lives that we haven’t ever really stopped and thought about what we learned and/or wound up believing as a result of those experiences.
“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NLT)
Abundant blessings, Judy
Edited by: Min. Tracey Carson