What difference do you make?

 

I believe that many Christians think they are insignificant and no matter what they do it really doesnít matter because they think it wonít make a difference. Well, this is completely wrong because every single person has the power to make a difference for Godís kingdom and in the lives of others. Far too many underestimate the difference they could make if they would only apply themselves and realize that it doesnít take some great feat to make a difference.

 

The Bible is full of examples of those who thought they were insignificant at first, but they soon realized that with God on their side they could make a difference. Our first example comes from Moses. Moses was born as a Hebrew, but he was raised as Egyptian. At the age of 40, he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating a Hebrew slave. When this was found out, he ran away and started new life as a husband, father, and farmer. His life was simple and he lived this way for 40 years. At the age of 80 a burning bush caught his attention and went to investigate and he found more than he bargained for because God wanted him to become the leader of his people and to go back to Egypt and free his people. Moses first reaction is found in.

 

Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?"

 

Moses was scared and he no confidence in himself. He could not see how he could possibly have the power to make a difference. As you read on in that chapter you see Moses makes one excuse after another and even begs God to send someone else. But God told him,

 

Exodus 3:12 "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."

 

Even though Moses doubted the significance he could make, he pressed on and did what God told him to do and we know that he went on to free the people from their Egyptian bondage and he became the new leader of the children of Israel. Moses serves as a great example of how someone can view themselves as being insignificant, yet with the right attitude they can discover that they can make a huge impact for God and for others.

 

Another great example of this comes from Gideon.

 

Judges 6:11 Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites.12 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!"13 Gideon said to Him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."14 Then the LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?"15 So he said to Him, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."16 And the LORD said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man."

 

Just like Moses, Gideon did not think that he or his clan was significant enough to make a difference. All he could think about was how small his clan was and how weak he was. It is true that his clan was the smallest, but God was going to be on their side and He would help them.

 

When you read on, you find out that that Gideon wasnít fully convinced so He asked for 2 signs and God gave him both signs. So, Gideon dug down deep and found his courage and began to make a difference for God. We need to keep in mind that they were going up against over 100,000 Midianites and Gideon started out with 32,000 men, but God wanted to make his point of how He can take what man sees as being insignificant and make it very significant. So, God had dwindled the number of men down to 300 and this small amount of men took on the Midianites and they won because God was with them.

 

Sometimes we may think we are insignificant, but with Godís help and our faith, we can and will make a difference for Godís kingdom and in the lives of others.

 

We just recently studied the book of Nehemiah and he is great example of how one man can make a significant difference. Nehemiah was cupbearer for the King of Persia and this was honorable position and he had all the comforts that you want, but when he found out that his people were being oppressed and the walls Jerusalem had not been rebuilt he wept bitterly and he prayed to God that he might make a difference.

 

This is first step that you and I should take. We should pray to God that we can make a difference in His kingdom and in the lives around us. Next, we learn that Nehemiah went before the king with sad expression, which could have cost him his life because a servant was not supposed to be sad around the king. Surprisingly the king asked Nehemiah what was wrong with him and so Nehemiah told the king about his people and how wanted to go and help them rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. By the providence of God, Nehemiah was allowed to do this.

 

As the story goes on, when he arrived and surveyed the city, he stood up and encouraged his people to rebuild by telling them Godand the king was on their side and this was enough to get the people fired up and they managed to rebuild the wall in 52 days. Not only did they do that, Nehemiah encouraged them to get back to Godís Law and they made many changes to make that happen. There is a lot more to this story, but it shows you how much of an impact one person can make in the lives of others and for the cause of God when they have faith and trust in God.

 

We must learn to realize how significant we are and how much of a difference we can make. Nehemiah wasnít anyone special and he wasnít even called by God. No, he took it on himself to leave the comforts of palace life and to go into the unknown so that he might make a difference for his people and for the cause of God.

 

Now some might think that if you donít something grand then it will not matter. Oh, but it does. Again, I want give you a few example of what I mean.

 

2 Kings 5:1 Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.2 And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman's wife.3 Then she said to her mistress, "If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy."4 And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, "Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel."

 

Many times we focus in on Naaman in this event because his main focus. However, we need to understand that Naamanís leprosy would have never been washed away if had not been for this one little unnamed Hebrew girl. If she had kept silent on this matter, Naaman would have never known that it was possible for his leprosy to be healed. While all this little girl did was give the information, which may seem insignificant it is not because her words is what brought these events about.

 

So this teaches us that it doesnít matter if you do something small or big, everything you do counts and sometimes the big things cannot be done until the small things are done first. So, donít think for a moment that small things are insignificant, because they are not.

 

Another example of this comes from the N.T. when Paul had been arrested and some men took an oath to kill Paul. They were going trick the commander into bringing Paul out and they were going to ambush him.

 

Acts 23:16 So when Paul's sister's son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, "Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him."18 So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, "Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you."19 Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside and asked privately, "What is it that you have to tell me?"20 And he said, "The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him.21 "But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you."22 So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, "Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me."

 

Paulís unnamed nephew happened to be in the right place at the right time and when he overheard this plot, he told Paul about it and then the commander. This young man did not fight a battle or become a great leader to make a big difference. He simply passed on information and that information made the difference between life and death.

 

His actions that day kept Paul from dying and what he did was part of Godís providence because God still had plans for Paul and those plans would have been cut short if it had not been for this young man. So, just because something may be easy to do, it doesnít it take away from the difference it can make.

 

Another important lesson we must learn is that we should not look at someone and prejudge them by their appearance and think that they will never amount to anything. A great example of this comes from Davidís time. God had instructed Samuel to go to Jesseís house so he could anoint one his sons to be the next king after Saul. When Samuel met up with Jesse and his sons, we find out what happens next in,

 

1 Samuel 16:6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab (e-lie-ab) and said, "Surely the LORD's anointed is before Him."7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."8 So Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one."9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one."10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these."11 And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all the young men here?" Then he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here."12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!"13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

 

If it had been up to Samuel, he would have chosen Eliab (e-lie-ab) because he was so tall and he looked like a strong man. This is what many people do today because they like prejudge people based on the appearance. If they are fat, then they must be lazy. If they are small, they must be weak. If they are dressed poorly and smell, they must be uneducated and must be free loaders and the list could go on and on.

 

As God said, He doesnít look at the outer appearance, He looks at the heart. While we cannot see as God sees, we must learn to stop prejudging people by their appearance. Instead, we need to get to know them first then we can know what kind of person they really are.

David was this young good looking boy, and he wasnít what you would think of as being a strong leader like a king, but God knew what his potential was and that is why he was anointed instead of Eliab (e-lie-ab). We know that God was right because David showed his bravery over and over again and he made a huge impact for Godís kingdom and he inspired those around him. So donít allow someoneís appearance to full you because you never know what great things God has in store for them.

 

Along this same line, we should not think that someone who has lived a life of sin cannot make a difference in other peoples life. A great example of this comes from the life of Paul. Paul was a tyrant when it came to Christianity because he wanted it to stop and many Christians were thrown into prison and even put to death because of Paul. But, Jesus had plan for Paul and when Paul was converted to Christianity, many Christians would have nothing to do with Paul because they thought he was just pulling a fast one. They certainly didnít think it would be possibly for a man like this to embrace Christianity.

 

However, we know that once Paul was converted, he became one of the hardest working apostles out there and made a huge difference in the growth of the church and his inspired writings make up a good portion of the N.T. Paul example proves that we should not prejudge someone based on their past actions because like Paul, they can change and make a big difference for Godís kingdom and in lives of others. I think sometimes that we forget life we lived before we became Christians. We know that we changed our ways and we should not think that other cannot change their ways as well.

 

Another area that we have a significant impact on is our family especial when it comes to our children and grandchildren. For example, Moses mother had the opportunity to teach her son about his people when he was still nursing. I believe what she taught him stuck with him and it helped make him into the man he became.

 

Another example comes from the priest Eli. His example is one that we donít want to follow because He failed to teach his sons about the importance of keeping Godís Word and because of this, they grew up not respecting God or their father.

 

Another good example comes from how Eunice and Louis taught young Timothy the way of God. Since they took the time to raise him in the Lord it made a big difference in his life and it helped him become the faithful evangelist that he was.

 

These 3 examples show how significant we are when it comes to our children and grandchildren. We must do our best to teach our children about God and to live our lives in a godly way because it will make a difference in our childrenís and grandchildrenís life and they will take what they have learned from us and pass it on to their kids. So, donít every underestimate your influence on them.

 

One last area I want to explore this morning has to do with our relationship with others in general. There is no questioning it, we will make a difference in other peoples life, but the question becomes will we make a good or a bad difference. Sometimes we have hard time being kind to others and instead of saying good thing about them or trying to encourage them, all we do is find every opportunity we can to tear them down or say something negative to them. When we do this, we are not going to help them or us and the relationship you have with them will never be what it should because you are making a bad difference in their life.

 

Until we learn to overcome our negative attitude toward others, we will not be able to make a positive difference in their life. So, we must do our best to change our attitude and embrace the fruit of the spirit which are,

 

Galatians 5:22-23 Ö love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control.

 

While none of us are perfect, we must continue to strive to be more Christ like and realize that we have the power to either make a good difference or bad difference. The last thing I want to share with you this morning is story that emphasizes the principle I have taught today.

 

There was young man by the name of Ted who had just begun 5th grade. Ted stood out from the rest of the class because his hair was always messy and he didnít smell very good. He did not make good grades, and he didnít play well with the other kids and so they avoided him. Now his teacher did not like Ted very much and she took great pleasure anytime she got to write big fat red F on his paper.

 

Now every teacher was supposed to read each students profile, which told them how they did in their previous grades, but she had not read Tedís profile yet. Well, it was the day before Christmas break and the teacher finally read Tedís profile. She found out that in 3rd grade that he was a wonderful student and made excellent grade and he got along well with others, but his mother died toward the end of 3rd grade. Now his 4th grade teacher wrote that he was seemed depressed a lot and that he struggled with his grades.

 

After the teacher read this she felt horrible about how she was treating Ted and she cried herself to sleep that night. The next day, all the children brought the teacher Christmas presents and they were all wrapped in beautiful paper except for Tedís. His gift was wrapped in brown paper sack and there nothing neat about the wrapping job. Well, as the teacher opened up Tedís present it had bracelet in it with some missing gems and it had bottle of perfume that was half empty.

 

Well, the kids laughed about his present, but the teacher surprised them all because she put on the bracelet and even put on some of the perfume. Now after class was over, the teacher went up to Ted and gave him a hug and told him thank you, and Ted told her that she smelled just like his mother. This caused the teacher to cry once again.

 

This was a life changing event for this teacher, and she decided that she would change her teaching style. She also started treating Ted with kindness and she encouraged him to do better, and it worked. It didnít take long until Ted gained his interest back in doing good and his grades improved dramatically, and at the end of the year he told his teacher that she was the best teacher that he had ever had.

 

Ted made his way through middle school and continued to do well and when he graduated high school he was 3rd in his class. Now he stayed in contact with his fifth grade teacher and he always told her that she was the best teacher that he had.


From there he went on to college and his Dad died, so when we came to his graduation night he invited his 5th grade teacher to sit in the place that was normally reserved for parents. Of course she accepted the invitation and when she went she put on that bracelet he gave her a long time ago that was missing gems and she put on some of that perfume that he had given her as well.

 

When he came up to her he hugged and told her again that she was the best teacher that he had ever had and that none of this would be possible if it wasnít for her. But she told him that he had it all wrong and she told him that he was the best teacher there was because until she met him she did not know how to teach and he changed her life for ever.

 

This story along with my lesson just proves how you can make a significant difference in someoneís life and for Godís kingdom. Again, the question becomes are you going to make a positive difference or a negative one? I hope that each of us will choose to make a positive one so that we can change the lives of others for the better and so that we can increase Godís kingdom and bring glory and honor to him.