Influential

Influences in our lives include family, friends, work colleagues – even people you meet in the grocery store. We have influences over what we eat (the server in the restaurant who makes a recommendation on the best dish they serve), options for our career (the co-worker who suggests career growth), choices in school (the counselor/advisor who guides those decisions), family time (the parent who recommends or requires time with grandparents), and how to manage our day (mindset applications). Sometimes the influences are good and positive. Other times, those influences are quite negative.

There are plenty of stories about influence in the bible. The serpent influenced Eve about all the benefits of eating the fruit from the forbidden tree.

The bible states in 1 Corinthians 15:33: Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."

Genesis 37:31, 32 Then they [the brothers] got Joseph’s beautiful robe. They killed a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took it back to their father. They said, ‘We found this. Take a look at it. See if it is your son’s robe.’

The outcome of the story of Joseph, his brothers, and the gift of the coat from his father, Jacob, may have ended very differently, if perhaps only one of Joseph’s brothers felt it was not necessary to kill their brother. But, it appears that they were influenced by each other. In time, God used the awful acts of his brothers to leverage Joseph for greater good, to guide the king of Egypt and to become governor over a famine-wrought land.

Genesis 41 The king told Joseph, “God is the one who has shown you these things. No one else is as wise as you are or knows as much as you do.”

The brothers eventually were warmly accepted and welcomed by Joseph; but I wonder, in those years apart, did they regret their decision? Did any one of them feel pain and agony by being influenced by his other brothers and make a choice he was uncomfortable with?

God created us with free will, allowing us to make decisions for ourselves. But, many times over, the influences around drive us to make poor choices. Faith needs to enter in, to become relevant in our lives, to guide us in making better choices. What is comforting to know, is that if we stray too far, that God will find us where we are and guide us back to a righteous path.

I recently came across this article, 10 Ways to Detoxify Your Soul Right Now, by Whitney Hopler. (located here: https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/detoxify-your-soul.html) I realized I have not spent nearly enough time, weeding my personal garden of negative influences. But, these tips give me a great start.

Matthew 5:13-16 "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.”

Sarah Thompson

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