How much influence do you have?

Our response to this question will depend upon what we think is meant by ''influence.'' If we think of influence as political or financial clout, for example, we may feel we have a reasonable amount, very little, or none at all. Defining influence this way, some are tempted to think that they can't effect meaningful changes - that their place in this world is of limited power, even limited significance.

What we need is a clear spiritual view of influence. Consider this Biblical premise: God is all-good and all-powerful. And this statement by Mary Baker Eddy , the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science: ''Your influence for good depends upon the weight you throw into the right scale. The good you do and embody gives you the only power obtainable. Evil is not power. It is a mockery of strength, which erelong betrays its weakness and falls, never to rise.'' n1

n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 192.

Accepting this spiritual premise, we can see that our influence for good is in proportion to our expression of the divine nature, of the one all-good, all-powerful God. Our influence is limited only by the weight of thought and action we throw into the wrong scale, into whatever is not truly good or supported by divine law - into selfishness and materialism.

As we acknowledge and live by the truth that God governs man, that in our true being we are the very offspring of God, we align ourselves with Him, with the one universal source of all good. We begin to see that we don't have to compete with others for power or prestige or influence; that God made us complete and indispensable, the recipients of unbounded good. This doesn't make us less effective - just the opposite. It make us less prone to be tripped up by human competitiveness and lack of wisdom; for this acknowledging of God as the one all-powerful influence in our lives prevents us from believing that evil is as real as good.

Trusting divine influence protects us. It lessens the possibility of being influenced erroneously or being tempted to seek personal influence or domination over others.

Attempts to influence through physical or willful means will be neutralized in proportion as God is known as the single benevolent influence, all-encompassing. Attributing all power to God, we are putting weight into the right scale, as Jesus so successfully did. He said, ''I can of mine own self do nothing,'' n2 and ''The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.'' n3 These were much more than meek, self-effacing statements. They embodied a humble and mighty recognition of God's supremacy as the only creator, the only genuine power.

n2 John 5:30.

n3 John 14:10.

Clearly, Jesus didn't claim that he could influence people through his own personal talent or cleverness, or that he could personally ''make things happen.'' It is an enlightened, spiritual view of God and divine goodness, not the mere human wielding of power, that has the mightiest influence over the thoughts and destiny of mankind, as the Master persuasively showed.

The Scriptures record many examples of lives taking on deeper meaning and effectiveness as individuals identified closely with God, recognized their true value and importance as His children. They were found leading a nation, saving people from mistakes, influencing the very course of values and events, and healing what had seemed unhealable. Sometimes they appeared to be in circumstances that would never permit such results. For example, Joseph, of the Old Testament, was unjustly imprisoned. Yet this circumstance served to forward, rather than hinder, his mission.

How much influence do you have? Your influence for good is in proportion to your understanding of God and to your obedient trust in Him. Never underestimate your influence for good under God's inspired guidance. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of they countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice All the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. Psalms 89:15, 16

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