Do you ever feel that you are not a very good influence on others as far as your faith is concerned? Most of us have doubts that God is using us or could use us to have an impact on His kingdom. Yesterday, I heard the sweetest story that disputes that idea.
I have an elderly aunt whose husband passed away recently, and she was in the process of selling the home they lived in. She was already set up in her new place, and there was quite a bit of leftover furniture, etc. that she had agreed to let go with the sale. In discussing this with the man who was purchasing it, she asked him, “All I want is a $500 donation that I can use for missions.” He asked her, “What kind of missions do you support?” (a very reasonable question)!
She replied, “I give to several different organizations (and listed a few examples), but one thing I do is I buy these tiny pop-up cards that have scripture verses in them in bulk, so when I go out if I meet someone I think might need a little encouragement I give them one.” The man’s face went white. He reached in his wallet and pulled out a little a card and said, “You gave me this four years ago and I’ve carried it with me ever since.”
Neither of them had recognized each other; my aunt had simply shared that bit of scripture in passing, by listening to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and acting on the opportunity. I don’t know what was going on in the man’s life at that time, but obviously, the scripture verse and my aunt’s kind gesture made an impact on him that was still bearing fruit. How kind of God to orchestrate that moment and affirm the power God’s Word has on others! Incidentally, he told her, “I’m happy to give you the $500 and you can use it however you want!”
Reading Acts 18 this morning, I was reminded several times of this same principle. Paul and the early apostles and disciples had a world-changing influence on their communities for one reason – the powerful Word of God.
Acts 18:3-5 – And because he [Paul] was of the same trade [as Priscilla and Aquila], he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers. And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
Acts 18:9-11 – And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Acts 18:19 – They came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.
Acts 18:24-28 – Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Do you want to have kingdom impact? Devote yourself to the Word of God. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Talk about it. Discuss it. Share it, verbally and non-verbally. God’s Word will never return void.
We can do a lot of good deeds, and we should. We ought to help one another in practical ways, by all means. But good deeds alone won’t change a life. God’s Word is powerful and effective and eternal and is the means of our spiritual transformation.
God created us with different personalities, talents, and gifts; we share in different ways. My aunt never meets a stranger and loves to talk to people, but I’m glad she sees the value in leaving them with more than her own words of encouragement. I am terrible at small talk with people I don’t know but love connecting with others through the words I write. God uses me in a different way. It’s not our personalities or our level of spiritual maturity, or our ability (or lack of) to powerfully reason with others about deep theological truths. It is the Word of God itself that changes lives.
Today, who will you impact with God’s Word? Are you equipped? Do you know God’s Word enough to talk about it? If not, be like Paul and devote yourself to it. May it be said, because of our obedience, And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region (Acts 13:49).