It takes a lot of maturity not to worry about what others think of us. But it takes just as much maturity to care about how others are influenced by our actions. Earlier this year, I went to the Bahamas with my wife and two of my grandkids. A church had asked me to preach for two weeks there, so I seized the opportunity. After the services, the church participated in Communion. The only problem was they served real wine. My grandkids were young adults, but neither of them had ever tasted alcohol. They knew that I preached against the dangers of alcohol and social drinking from the pulpit. They had seen me consistently practice what I had preached in this area. At the same time, the host church was expecting me to take the cracker and the wine. Should I take the wine and offend my family, or refuse it and risk offending the people at this church?
As I stood in front of everybody at the church, I took the cracker and ate it. Everyone followed suit. Then I raised the cup of wine . . . but I did not bring it to my lips. I set it back down on the communion table. Some drank the wine, but my wife and grandkids did not. They followed my example.
If I had taken a drink of wine, what would have prevented my grandson or granddaughter from taking a drink later? What if one or both of them became alcoholics because of my decision? These may sound like extreme examples, but I didn’t want to cause my grandkids to stumble.
It doesn’t matter what others think about us, but the way our actions influence others does matter. There might not be anything wrong with what we are doing; but if there is a possibility our actions will cause someone else to stumble, then we should avoid them. This is not weakness; it is wisdom.
Did you know you are influencing others? Everything about you, from the clothes you wear, to the words you say, to the programs you watch on television, to the hobbies you enjoy in your spare time, to the convictions you have, makes an impact on others for good or bad. Live so that those who watch you will not use you as an excuse for their sin.
Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder