INFLUENCE Andy Hollifield 2-20-17
Influence— The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior,opinions,etc…, of others. (Dictionary.com)
Genesis 19:14 “And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.” (KJV)
I have given this scripture a lot of thought lately as I have thought about the time people spend trying to influence others. We get sick of it in politics. We tire easily of someone trying to use it to get us to do or think what they want us to. But when it comes to being a Christian, you better hope you have all you can get. The problem with influence is that it is measured not by you but by those that you are around. Influence is hard to gain but is easily lost. Sometimes you never know you had it until all of a sudden you realize that you have lost it. Such was the case with Lot out of Genesis chapter 19. Before we discuss Lot’s influence or the lack thereof, we need to take a look at his life. For it is your conduct in the situations of life that determine whether or not you have influence. Also, it is not what you say about a situation but how you go through it that determines influence. Also, you never know who you have it on until you eventually find out that you have lost it. The sad thing is that quite often due to the disappointment of the person over which you had it, you may never find out exactly when or why you lost it. Influence is a fragile thing that can cost you everything over nothing. It seems like it is probably more trouble than it is worth to even have it, but the fact is that we will do anything to get it cause it can cost us dearly if we don’t. Now that we either understand influence or are totally confused about it, lets look at Lot’s life.
Lot had a rough start in the fact that his father Haran died before he left Ur of the Chaldees and his sister apparently married his uncle Nahor. You will see the importance of this in a minute. Terah the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran took his family and left Ur of the Chaldees headed for Canaan. At some point Terah died leaving Abram and Sarai, Nahor and Milcah, and if I read this right, Iscah the sister of Milcah and Lot. Nothing is ever said about their mother. This is where it gets interesting. In chapter 12 and verse 1, God tells Abram to leave his country and his kindred and his father’s house and go to a land that he would show him. The next two verses detail the covenant God made with Abram. But in verse 4 it says, “…and Lot went with him…” No where did I find where Abram prayed about taking Lot but he apparently took him on his own. A lot of life events took place in Abram’s life after they arrived in Canaan in verse 5. Chapter 13 we find where Abram went south and Lot went with him there also. We also find that this is where they started having problems. Can I stop long enough to say that if you don’t follow God’s instructions as he gives them to you, it will eventually lead to problems. Verse 10 is the first indication of Lot’s problems beginning. In verse 8 Abram had suggested the separation, another move without praying, and in verse 10 Lot chose toward Sodom. God then reconfirmed his covenant with Abram. In chapter 14, Lot had already moved to Sodom and an enemy captured him and the city and Abram had to go and rescue him. Now we skip to chapter 19 and we find Lot again. This time he is visited by two angels and he takes them in and feeds them. Then the welcoming party of Sodom’s men, or Sodomites, surrounded the house and tried to get the men (angels) so they could have relations with them. Now we are back to Lot and his influence. In verse 8, he actually offered these Sodomites his two virgin daughters to do with as they pleased. If you read back in verse 1 of this chapter, you see that Lot is sitting in the gate of the city. That is customarily the place for the city leaders to be found sitting. It might even be assumed that Lot had assimilated into the culture to the point he had become a city leader. Now here he is fighting off the men of the city, and offering a bunch of pervert men his two daughters. He is now a far cry from the young man that left Ur of the Chaldees with his uncle Abram. It got so bad that Lot went outside to try to talk some sense into them but had to be drug back into the house by the angels. In verse number 13 the angels told Lot of the coming destruction. At that point is where Lot went during the night to talk to his sons in law which married two of his other daughters. Then comes the pitiful statement in verse 14 “but he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.” What a sad situation to come from off the mountain from an uncle that feared God to a city father of a city that God was going to destroy it. He had been so long accepting of that lifestyle that he had raised 4 daughters around it and 2 had already married. It didn’t happen overnight it was a long time coming. He had been so far away from God for so long, no one paid any attention to him when he tried to warn them of God’s coming destruction.
As morning came, the angels said it was time to take his daughters that were there and leave. Can you imagine the anguish? His two married daughters apparently had no confidence in him cause they wound up not leaving. He had offered his other two daughters out to men to be abused. And the fact is that after the angels drug Lot, his wife, and his daughters out of Sodom, his lack of Godly influence became abundantly clear. On the way out, despite warnings from the angels to keep moving and not look back, Lot’s wife had to have just one more look. Think about it. He had been with his wife long enough to raise four daughters and two of them had married men, but his own wife didn’t have enough confidence in him to believe the angels or him. Now at this point Lot is 0 for 5 at least. His wife, two daughters, and two sons in law all gone forever to an eternal fire all because he refused to live Godly in front of them. With only two daughters left in his entire family, he argued with the angels and got them to let him go into Zoar, a small city, instead of into the mountains. To make matters worse, the two remaining daughters saw that their father’s seed would die when he did and without a bloodline, so they got him drunk and slept with him to give him children. Now he is technically 0 for 7 with his family. His last two daughters apparently had so little morals and such little regard for him that they didn’t see anything wrong with what they were doing. To make matters worse, if you look at all the division in the middle east now, this is at least one of the places it can be traced back to.
Now to get down to facts. All of this story took place first because Abram didn’t bother praying before he took Lot with him when he left home. But mostly, it took place because one day on the side of a hill when Lot lifted up his eyes the wrong direction and walked away leaving all of his godly influence. Now, what about you? You don’t have to be a pervert to lose your family. You can just busy yourself with the things of this world and neglect the things of God. You can just stay on the go to dance lessons, ball games, the lake, the beach, or whatever and fail to tell your acquaintances about God and live it in front of them and your influence will be gone. All you have to do is quit telling those stories of the times that God and God alone got you through something. Just quit being faithful to the things of God. Just keep running and running and eventually you will run out of time to be a positive influence. You will have no credibility or influence when you talk to your daughters, or sons, or sons in law. You will seem as one that mocketh. You will then get laughed at and called a hypocrite. You will have done nothing to gain influence with your family and friends. So if you don’t have time to be faithful, that is fine. You don’t have to be. But you will lose those closest to you. If ball or cheering or the lake or anything else is that important, keep them out of church and let them do it on Wednesday night. Let them do it on Sunday. Just don’t be surprised when you can’t win them. Don’t be disappointed when they get older and they have no time to go to church with you. That will mean that you successfully influenced them: all in the wrong way.
It don’t have to be that way. As long as God is being merciful you still have time. Time to be faithful, time to live right, time to let them see you putting God first. If it is important to you, it will likely be important to them. If you don’t have time for it, why should they? You will influence someone; it is just a question of which way. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!