The question of the type of influence I am in the lives of my husband and my children has been rolling around my heart and mind for some time now. As we spend our mornings reading, and digging deeply in to the timeless Wisdom of Proverbs, I become increasingly more aware of so many things I want for them…and so many things I don’t. The desire of my heart is to be the kind of mother whose instructions they can listen to with full confidence, knowing it to be rooted in God’s Word. But as much as I want this, I know that this is not the case all of the time. It may be when I am speaking to them directly, but what about in my conversations with others? Do they hear me consistently repeating the perspective found in Gods Word, or am I occasionally spouting off my own faulty opinions? Are my sons able to look at my life and see and hear an example of a godly wife and mother by my conversation and deeds? Are my daughters able to look and listen to me and see an examle of a godly wife and mother? Or are they being given mixed messages from a heart still stuck between feminism and femininity…unsettled between fighting for my rights instead of following Christ’s example (“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.)? Am I a Godly influence? A lot of time is spent encouraging them in their discipleship process, but do I also spend a lot of time grumbling and complaining about the church, or speaking negatively about their father to others when I don’t think they can hear me? It took me a long time to find joy in a life of submission, and now that I found that, I can look back and see how far the Lord has brought me. I am ashamed to say that, during the early years of my marriage, and just the younger years of my life, I was guilty of being an ungodly influence in the lives of others through the venue of gosipping…or complaining…or self-centeredness…and I was a Christian. I do not want to continue that and I know that choosing to influence others for Christ is not something we do on accident! We must choose to everyday.
The first wife who proved to be an ungodly influence in the life of the one she was created to love was Eve. We see her using her God given influence to dishonor the Lord, and lead her husband into sin. Her decision to use her influence negatively not only impacted her future, but the future of all who would ever be born. As a mother four times over, I believe I can speak confidently when I say that the greatest horror a mother will ever face is the death of her child(ren). That is an almost inconceivable level of pain and heartache. Now imagine that you not only lose one of your sons, but that his life was ended by the hands of your other son, his brother All of your dreams for him and hopes for his future are gone in one moment! No grandchildren with his eyes, or his smile. No little person running up to you who, from a distance, transports you back in time to a day when he was just a little boy. No oopses that have you laughing inside as you shake your head thinking, “You are just like your father”. That life is forever gone, and though you have other children, maybe even 1,000 of them, not one can erase the pain of the loss of Abel. As your other beloved boy, the murderer, is sent away from you forever, you are left to live with an eternal ache in your heart that reminds you with every beat, that all of this could have been avoided if you had used the influence God gave you for good and not for evil.
Good influence or bad, our actions have consequences, and those consequences are often our pain and sorrow as we witness the ones we love live their lives or make decisions based on our influence or guidance. This is why it is so omportant to know our motives and submit them to the Lord. Proverbs 24:12 says, “Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.” For some of us, being a negative influence isn’t something we think about. The subtle manipulations we engage in are simply learned patterns of behavior and interaction. They’re not overt or blatant acts of control, and who notices anyway? Simple answer, God does, and so do our children. We must remember that behaviors are learned…even subtle ones.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. … When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Galatians 5:16-25
As women, God has given us a natural influence in the lives of our husbands, our children, and those that we care about and interact with. Let’s ask ourselves how are we using that influence. Are we using it to draw others closer to the Lord and to make His name famous in the earth, or are we using it to bring about our own will and plans for our lives? Let’s purpose in our hearts to be God-like influences in the lives of those closest to us. Don’t follow the example of Eve who led her husband into sin, and who is a woman forever remembered for her contribution to the sinful state of the world. “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”