Today’s reading: 2 Chronicles 21-24.
Michael Shannon wrote this about influence in Preaching Magazine:
Rivers gain more attention than the little streams that create them. You can name the great rivers of the world, but you cannot name their tributaries. However, without the tributaries, there would be no river. And it must be remembered that the smaller streams, while less well-known, are purer and are found on a higher elevation. Some of our lives are tributary lives. It is our role to provide the pure water from the higher elevation that enables another to be a mighty river of power and influence.
Each of us has the power to help another become a mighty river of influence. The question we need to ask ourselves is, am I using my power to help another become an influence for good? Am I using my power of influence at all?
Two people of powerful influence stood beside each other in Jerusalem in the days of King Joash, and they used their power in dramatically different ways. One of the people was Athaliah, who was Joash’s grandmother. When Athaliah’s son Amaziah ruled Judah, the Bible says she “encouraged him in doing wrong.” With his mother’s encouragement he followed the path of idolatry like his grandfather King Ahab. When Amaziah was assassinated, Athaliah tried to kill all of her grandsons in order to wipe out David’s royal line. She would have succeeded except that her daughter, Jehosheba, took Joash and hid him.
Jehosheba’s husband was Jehoiada, the high priest. While Athaliah used her power to corrupt, Jehoiada used his influence to restore. He kept Joash safe for seven years, then secured his place on the throne and oversaw the execution of Athaliah. As the young king grew up Jehoiada remained a faithful guide, helping Joash restore the worship of Jehovah and remove the idolatrous practices that his father and grandparents had begun. The Bible says of Joash that he “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest.” Jehoiada was the powerful influence that kept Joash devoted to the LORD. But Jehoiada grew old and died, and Joash fell under the power of another influence. The officials of his land urged him to abandon Jehovah and return to the worship of idols, and Joash listened to them. When Jehoiada’s own son warned the king about the error of his ways, Joash ordered him to be stoned to death. In return, God allowed invaders to overrun Judah. The king was severely wounded in the battle, and then assassinated by his own people.
These events demonstrate the power of influence and call out for us to use our influence to help others live godly lives. There will always be men and women like Athaliah who use their power to corrupt others. Edmund Burke said “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We should not let our power for good go unused. Like Jehoiada, we should employ it to help others become mighty rivers of influence for good.
Image by BK on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0