Day 7: May 9, 2018: The Law of Influence
2 Chronicles 12:1, 13-14: When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him… 13 So King Rehoboam grew strong in Jerusalem and reigned. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city that the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put his name there. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. 14 And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.
John Maxwell states that “the true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” A leader’s level of influence can increase or diminish. It is also true that the ability to influence others can be used for good or for evil. The kings of Israel and Judah had a tremendous amount of influence on the spiritual condition of God’s chosen people. Unfortunately, many of those kings used their position of power to lead the people into doing evil in the eyes of the Lord.
Rehoboam was the son of Solomon. After Solomon died the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Rehoboam was thus the first king of Judah after it was separated from Israel. The first king of the northern kingdom was Jeroboam. Jeroboam is infamous in the Old Testament for being the king who set Israel on a path of idolatry and wickedness from which it never returned (1 Kings 12:25-33). The Lord’s verdict against Jeroboam was “and he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 14:16). All the subsequent kings of Israel are condemned for continuing to walk in the ways of Jeroboam and continuing to lead the nation in that same path of rebellion (1 Kings 15:25-26, 15:34, etc.). Jeroboam used his influence to inflict lasting damage on Israel which eventually resulted in their exile (2 Kings 17:21-23).
Rehoboam had the opportunity to do things differently. After Jeroboam turned Israel to idolatry many priests and Levites fled from the northern lands to come and live in Judah. The ranks of Judah thus swelled in the numbers of people who “had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 11:16). Rehoboam thus had many capable people in Judah would could have helped him lead the nation in faithfulness to God. Instead, “Rehoboam… abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.” Like Jeroboam, Rehoboam used his influence to lead God’s people away from God. Rehoboam’s actions set Judah on a course from which they never did recover either, and so the southern kingdom eventually followed Israel into exile because they also walked in the same sins of idolatry and rebellion (2 Kings 17:19-20; 2 Kings 25).
Now, none of us are kings. Some of us do not have official positions of leadership. However, all of us are leaders at one level or another. All of us have spheres of influence in which our decisions and actions affect the people around us. Husbands and wives influence each other. Parents and grandparents influence their children and grandchildren. Friends influence one another. Teachers influence their students. Bosses influence their employees, and co-workers influence one another. The list could go on. What are your spheres of influence? Who are the people whose lives you impact through the way you live your life?
Most importantly, are you using your influence for good or for evil? Are you leading your spouse and children to love and serve the Lord? Are you – at work, in the neighborhood, at school, with your friends – serving as a good example of what it means to follow Jesus? Do you build people up in positive ways? Or, is your influence negative? Do you tear others down? Do you discourage them? Do you, like Rehoboam, pull others away from faithfulness to God?
These are challenging questions which we must take seriously. We often go through life without thinking carefully about how we are influencing others. But the Scriptures call us to examine ourselves in precisely this area. Jesus is the Light of the World, and he wants to shine his light through us to others (John 8:12, Matthew 5:14-16, Philippians 2:14-16). We will never be perfect reflections of Christ, but we can grow more and more in our walk with him, so that the influence we have on those around us will itself be influenced by the love and truth of Jesus.
Take time now to seek God. This brief prayer can help you get started: “Heavenly Father, I want to influence the people around me toward You. However, I confess that my influence is sometimes careless and even harmful. Lord, help me not to be like Rehoboam. Instead, fill me with your Spirit and cause your light to shine through me to others. Give me wisdom so that the things I do and say will build others up and encourage them to walk with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”