When I first came became a Christian, God graciously put two very important people in my life, Ed and Erik. Both of them were godly men who influenced me greatly. Erik was and still is a pastor, and Ed was a tremendous mentor. I’ll never forget the first time Erik took me to a men’s Bible study. I had never been around Christians or studied Scripture. I was amazed by their conduct. They were kind, hospitable, serious about their faith, and they knew how to have fun. I couldn’t tell you what the lesson was that night. All I remember is their joy and kind-heartedness. As for Ed, he was there for me all the time. He helped me work through a lot of personal issues. What amazed me about Ed was that he never judged me or made me feel ashamed for my past life. He showed me love and understanding. Both Ed and Erik demonstrated an immense amount of love towards me early on, and their positive influence shaped the course of my life. Influence! That’s what Jesus is talking about in this passage. Salt and light influence, whatever they come in contact with, and Christians are to be positive influences on the people in their lives for the sake of God’s kingdom. In fact, being a godly influence is one of our primary callings as believers (V.15). Salt is meant to preserve and enhance the taste of food, and a bright light draws people’s attention as it casts out darkness. If these two elements don’t produce these functions, then they are not fulfilling their purpose. The same is true with believers. Our lives are to validate the message of the Gospel. People should see our “good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (V.16). When I first met Erik and Ed, I was still investigating Christianity. I wasn’t sure about the whole Jesus thing. But as I observed their lives, the message of Christ shined through. Their good works authenticated the message they preached and it led to my conversion. Now, let’s be clear, we know it is God who saves through the preaching of His Word, but the Lord also uses godly examples to confirm the truthfulness of the Gospel. I’ll never forget working with a man named Roger. When we first met him he was a sad and hopeless man. So, we loved him and taught him about Jesus. Eventually, Roger began spending time with Bob, another member of our church. It wasn’t long after that, Roger became a Christian too. His life was completely changed. Again, we know it is God who saves by faith in His Son, but there is no question in my mind that Bob’s godly influence was the tipping point in bringing Roger to faith. To this day, Roger talks about the influence Bob had on him in the beginning. Whose lives are you influencing today? Have you considered that lately?The question is not: “are you influencing their lives?” The question is: “how are you influencing their lives?” We are always affecting the people around us. Man is not an island. Are you being salt and light? Or you have lost sight of your purpose? Remember, if you’re in Christ, “You are the light of the world” (V.14). Therefore, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (V.16). Who knows, your positive influence may just make a difference in someone’s life and even their eternity.
This week’s devotional was written by Brandon Sutton, who is the lead pastor with Blue Ridge Christian Union Church outside of Shelbyville, Indiana and executive director of The Grace House, a men’s recovery home. He is currently pursuing his Master of Divinity degree at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He loves God, His people, and preaching His Word.