WOMEN AND THEIR INFLUENCE
Today is mother’s day when we honor our mothers, but in today’s lesson I will be talking about women in general and how they are to use their influence in a righteous way that will lead the world around them to live up to the standards of God. Though my lesson will mainly focus on women this morning, the same basic truths also apply to all us.
Beginning in the Garden of Eden and continuing until eternity, the world has been drawn into sin by Satan’s lures. The only hope the world has known rests on the fact that God sent His Son to bring about the forgiveness of sin. The message of the cross in made known by the influence and example of those who are willing to live for the Lord. .
Today, more than ever, Christians should be using every opportunity they have to be a positive influence on society. If we take advantage of the doors that are opened for us we can make a tremendous impact on our society. Though we may hear the cries of a radical feminist who is trying her best to taint the view of all women today, Christian women must recognize the positive influence they can have on public morality. They must realize that it their responsibility to help other women understand the importance of living a pure life.
There can be no doubt that today’s society is plunging headlong into decay. Crime is rampant. There never seems to be an end to drug and alcohol abuse. After a slight statistical dip, cigarette smoking is increasing, especially among younger and younger children. Gambling is being legalized by more and more state and local governments. Abortion and illegitimate births are spiraling upward. Television programming is filled with sleazy talk shows airing every kinky relationship imaginable and then some. Abnormal life styles are presented on prime time “family” shows as if they are the norm. Educational systems are influencing our children to be more worldly. Marriages are falling apart, and children are out of control.
Is there an alternative to the declining standards and way to increase immorality or should we just shrug our shoulders and accept things as they are?
Obviously, we should not accept the standards of society, and I believe solution to the problem is Christianity. Our challenge as Christians is to rise above the world and allow the Godliness, virtue, and purity of Christianity to rule in our lives. If we all put into practice the maxim that “A better world begins with me,” then the effect will be felt around the globe. While men should be setting the example for other men, women must also set the example for living a moral life for other women.
Though our nation as whole has lost is moral compass, it is not the first time it has happened. The Bible tells us of the fall of Adam and Eve, the pride of Babel, the corruption of Noah’s day, Sodom and Gomorrah, right down to the degeneration of the Roman society of the first century. As corrupt as the Roman society was, Paul managed to covert many from their wicked ways during their day and we can do the same during our day.
Throughout Biblical history, we can see how people could influence a nation in positive way or in negative way. As I said, our lesson this morning will focus more on women, so our examples I will be using will be the good and the bad women of the Bible.
Our first example comes from the notorious Jezebel who I believe was one of the wicked women to walk the face of the earth. The details of her life can be read in I Kings 16:31; 18:4-13; 19:1, 2; 21:1-24. She was a murderous, selfish woman determined to have her own way and to wipe out God’s servants. The Bible has nothing good to say about this woman, except maybe her death. In fact, in New Testament times her name was synonymous with evil and treachery, as we see in
Revelation 2:20 "Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
Her name is used to describe a seducer of the saints. Since her deeds were so wicked, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who name their daughter Jezebel.
Jezebel not only had a negative influence on her husband, King Ahab, her evil ways influenced her daughter Athaliah as well.
2 Kings 11:1 When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king's sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom, from Athaliah, so that he was not killed. 3 So he was hidden with her in the house of the LORD for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
She was so wicked that when her son, King Ahaziah, was murdered, she set out to have her own grandsons murdered in order to claim the throne for herself. Only through God’s providence was one of those children, Joash, rescued by Jehosheba, and her husband. They gave Joash proper rearing and later led a revolt that established him as King. Joash became one of the “Royal Reformers” of God’s people.
Like mother like daughter, this two evil women had a negative influence of God’s people. If left unchallenged they would have done greater harm, but both of these women were killed. However, thanks to Jehosheba and her husband the one young lad Joash was saved and was raised in the way of righteousness and became the next king who returned the people back to way of God. This example shows the difference our influence can have on nation. The two evil daughters influenced the nation to be evil, but Jehoseba and her husband influenced the new young king toward righteousness, which influenced the nation to righteousness. So, do not every underestimate the power of your influence.
Esther is another woman whose influence had a direct bearing on the outcome of one entire nation. If you know the story then you know that she became the queen of Persia. Haman, who was a wicked man, tried to destroy the Jews that were in captivity. When Mordecai, learned of the plot, he encouraged Esther to inform the King of the scheme, saying to her
Esther 4:14 "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Like the courage of Jehosheba, Esther risked her life by going to the King without an invitation. She knew it worth the risk to save her people and preserve the lineage that Christ would come through. Woman should never think that they cannot make great changes in our nation because Esther shows that it is possible. Yes, we should all do our part on trying to influence those around us to live for God and His way. None of us should think that someone better than me can needs to change things, instead we need to remember what Mordecai said: Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
In the New Testament, we learn of Herodias in:
Matthew 14:3 For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. 4 Because John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." 5 And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. 6 But when Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. 7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, "Give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter." 9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. 10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.
Here we have another example of how a woman used her influence to carry out senseless murder. Herodias was an adulterous woman who hated the preaching of God’s truth by John the Baptist. She found her opportunity to have him murdered when her daughter Salome’s dancing pleased King Herod. When he offered her daughter whatever she wanted, she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter, which ended the life of the forerunner of Christ.
While the Bible has many examples of wicked women using their influence in wicked ways, we also have many examples of kind women who used their influence in good ways. For example,
Lydia was a woman whose influence helped spread the Gospel of Christ in Philippi in the first century. The account of her faithful life of service as a fellow helper of Paul is in Acts 16.
Acts 16:14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.
Lydia was a seller of purple – a luxurious dye affordable only by the wealthy – she had many contacts within her community. Though we are told specifically of the things she did, we can see that she opened her home up the Paul and Silas, and appears she also opened her home to other brethren as implied in:
Acts 16:40 So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.
After being converted to Christianity, she was using what she had to help serve other Christians. Showing hospitality back then was very important. Though hospitality is not as needed today as was back then, it is still an effective way to show you care and concern for others and can be used to influence those you show hospitality to. So, do not neglect the opportunity to show hospitality to others.
Another great example of women being a great influence is Lois and Eunice. This mother and grandmother were a great influence on Timothy. This is what Paul says about them:
2 Timothy 1:5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
2 Timothy 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Timothy’s father was a Greek and most likely would not have taught him anything about the Jewish way, but his mother and grandmother made sure that he knew about God and what the Scriptures taught. Paul commended them for their faith. A mother and grandmother should never underestimate the important of their Christian influence on the children and grandchildren.
We could consider many other women of Bible times whose lives affected the course of history: Eve’s fall to temptation, Sarah’s taking matters into her own hand and not waiting for the promised son, Rebekah’s deception of Isaac, Jochebed’s saving of her baby Moses, Deborah’s judgment of Israel, Delilah’s betrayal of Samson, Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi, Hannah’s
rearing up of Samuel, Bathsheba’s sin with David, Huldah’s prophesying, Mary’s role in the Virgin Birth, the Samaritan woman bringing her townspeople to meet the Christ, Mary and Martha’s hospitality, Mary Magdelene’s taking the word of the Resurrection to Jesus’ followers, Dorcas’ generosity to the poor of her community, Phoebe’s encouragement of Paul, as well
as the multitudes of others, named and unnamed, whose deeds are recorded in God’s Word.
We learn from all of these women to emulate their good and to avoid their evils.
It has been said that on average each of us has a direct influence on some 250 people in our lifetime. Obviously, those with more public lives will influence more people than will those who have limited contact with others. But, we never know who is watching us and is being impressed by the lives we are leading, whether that impression is favorable or not. It may be the checker at the grocery store who sees our attitudes when the lines are long. It may be another driver who sees how we react to traffic jams or by someone cutting us off. It may be the elderly neighbor who could use a hand with the yard work. Our paths constantly cross those who are “fruit inspectors” noticing whether our lives are filled with works and attitudes of the flesh
or with the fruits of the Spirit which are:
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Now let’s look at some examples of how women can teach morality.
One of the most obvious ways women mold morality is through their motherhood. John Gray said, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Abraham Lincoln attributed any success in his life to his mother. Harriet Beecher Stowe correctly stated that, “The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”
Ezekiel 16:44 reads, “As is the mother, so is the daughter.”
Children learn from mother whether good or bad, positive or negative. They not only learn from what they say, but what they do. If fact, I would say that a child learns his or her behavior more from a mother actions than her words. By observing how a mother relates to other women and to men, children are learning how to conduct themselves in adulthood. When children grow up in a family where there is respect and a strong husband/wife relationship, it is easier for them to have happy marriages themselves. Sadly, not enough children are growing up in good solid homes, and future generations will suffer for it. Let mothers and dads alike do their best to influence their children in the way of God and to uphold the morals that God wants us to have by not only teaching these truths from our lips, but also upholding these truths through our actions.
Another area of influence for all Christians is their interaction within their communities. There are many organizations that you can get involved in and there is nothing wrong with this as long as those organizations are not causing you to fail as being a good influence for God or serving Him as you should. When we do work in the community, we should never fail to give God the glory for the work that we do. As Jesus said:
Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
However, we must be careful what organization we associate with. Obviously, we should not associate with a religious organization that promotes error. Though we might be doing a great work for the community, we must understand that we are also promoting that particular group. Though the work itself is good, we could be influencing people to join themselves to a religious group that is following the way of man instead of God. We must always be aware of what we doing and who we are doing it for. We want to make sure that God is the one being glorified and not some man-made religious group.
Some areas that Christians can serve their community that can influence it is by participating in planning of school activities, serving on school boards to help keep out more worldly material of our children’s textbooks. We can help beautify our communities through garden clubs. We can take food to the sick and clothe the needy. We can help senior citizen centers. We can welcome newcomers. There are many ways we can serve our community and use our talents to improve the community we live in. Whatever we do in our community should be governed by what Paul said in:
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
More and more women are in the public workplace now than ever before. In fact I just hear on the news the other day that very soon there will be more women working than men. While the workplace gives us all more opportunities to teach others about God by our influence, this tells us that women have as many opportunities to reach out to the lost in the workplace as men. Like men, woman should be a good example of morality and good work ethic because we are told:
Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
On the job, as well as elsewhere, we represent what we believe, and others make judgments by the way they see us. There are two basic areas in which such judgments are made: ethics in conduct (Rom. 12:17; Prov. 11:16; Dan. 1:8) and purity of life (Phil. 4:8; I Cor. 6:9-11, 20; Gal. 5:19- 24). Ethics involves not abusing our perks, reporting time off honestly, and dealing with others in a forthright non-abrasive manner. Purity of life is reflected in our dress, speech, and general conduct. We are to abstain from all appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:22) and
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
Holy living does have an influence over the world. While it is true that each of us is only one person, together we are an army. If we each determine, I can be strong. I will not compromise that which I know to be right. I will teach my family. I will show kindness and deal ethically with others. I will put the Kingdom of God first and pray for all, then this world will be a better place because we all did our part in serving God and being the best influence that we could.
Though I focused more on the examples of women from the Bible today and talked about how women have more opportunities to be good influence to others. This principle have been teaching throughout this lesson applies to all of us. I hope all of us will always do our best live for God in word and deed and never use our influence for evil.
Adapted from Annette H. Cates chapter in 1996 Memphis School of Preaching Lectureship.