One of the joys of traveling to visit my supporting churches is to meet all sorts of people from different backgrounds, and hear their stories. Recently I heard the tale of a hard living, gruff, workaholic contractor named Johnny, who was known to get on his workers when they made mistakes and yelled at subcontractors when they missed deadlines. He out muscled other contractors for the best jobs by the force of his personality, will, and often questionable shenanigans. If you crossed Johnny, watch out! Trouble would come and everyone knew it.
Then Johnny’s wife Rita became a follower of Jesus. Her changed life and witness bore a lot of fruit in the neighborhood, as well as among family and friends. Neither she nor Johnny came from religious backgrounds, so her story was the topic of conversation around town. Six months later Johnny followed Rita’s example and believed and received Christ (see John 1:12). The members of the church they attended accepted this couple for who they were and welcomed them into their community. Johnny joined a men’s group doing a study on the work of the Holy Spirit and people noticed a softening taking place in his language, tone, and personality.
People who worked with Johnny were stunned at what happened to him. When a subcontractor ran into a job delay and did not get a plumbing assignment done on time, Johnny treated him with understanding and respect. A member of Johnny’s crew made an honest and costly mistake at a job site and expected to receive Johnny’s wrath. Instead of screaming and insulting him in front of everyone, Johnny acted calm and discussed ways to overcome the problem. Rival companies and contractors even began to see the marked difference in him. Of course, Rita saw the changed behavior at home in how Johnny treated her and their kids. So did Harry, his foreman of twenty years. Harry decided that whatever had changed Johnny was what he needed too, so he trusted in Christ as Savior and Lord. A chain reaction started and went through Johnny’s family, friends, and company.
What had happened? Johnny had been converted into a follower of Jesus and was a new man. He was now following the leading and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The evidence was clear and compelling – a changed life in terms of manners, vocabulary, and treatment of others. He was not living according to the old patterns of his life, but his character, marriage, parenting, and work were now being influenced and shaped by the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and self-control.
Others were influenced by the change in Johnny’s life and several (like Harry) decided to find their way back to God. Certainly there was a ripple effect as a result of what happened in Rita and Johnny’s life. Rita (and the church) impacted Johnny. Johnny impacted Harry and others.
Read Acts 4:8-22…especially v 21 – “They spoke about what they had seen and heard.”
Have you experienced any remarkable change in your influence for Christ lately? Are you walking in the daily sense of the Spirit’s power? Are you asking the Holy Spirit to fill you and use you to impact others for Christ? Think of the scientists, engineers, artists, educators, lawyers, athletes, writers, actors, politicians, laborers and neighbors in your circle of influence. Are you available for the work of God? Are you hungry for the leading of the Spirit? What are you asking the Spirit to empower you to do this week? Whom are you teaming up with in Spirit-led service? Live communally. Fill your life with spiritual fruit and power, and then give it away.
Love is a verb,