“Will This Harm Other People?”
By Pastor Jerry Donovan
Everything we do influences someone else. Some decisions are good for us as well as others. But sometimes it’s tempting to make a decision that might be fine for us but would harm the people around us. That’s why we need to ask ourselves: “Will this harm other people?”
Our culture teaches us to think of ourselves only. What do we need? What do you want? But God expects us to think of people around us, too. Romans 14:12-13 says, “Each of us will give an account of himself to God . . . Try to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something that he thinks is wrong” (TLB).
Rick Warren recently sent me a copy of his “Influence Test” which is counter cultural to our world today that is worth passing on. Whether we like it or not, we are being watched by other people. We are all together in this boat called humanity. If I decide to drill a hole in the bottom of the boat, everyone else will be affected. The Bible says that one day we’ll be judged on how our decisions have affected other people, and God takes this seriously.
Parents and other people with children in their lives are a clear picture of this. They are directly influencing the next generation as these children watch the decisions they make. They see whether their parents treat rude people with respect or return the rudeness. They know if you lie to your boss about being sick just so you can get a day off.
Everyone is a neighbor to someone. Ask yourself: “Am I a good neighbor to the people who live closest to me?” The random people you come in contact with every day are watching you, too the new guy working the register, or the restaurant server who’s having a hard day and takes it out on you. As a Christian, we can’t just respond to these things the way we feel. If we do, the non-Christians around us may look and say, “If that’s what a Christian is, forget it!”
Romans 15:1-2 says, “Even if we believe that it makes no difference to the Lord whether we do these things, still we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves; for we must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others” (TLB).
Mature people limit their freedom for the benefit of others. They consider how their decisions will affect people around them. They limit their own freedom out of love. They use the “Influence Test” and ask, “How will it affect others?”
I hope you find this influence test helpful in your decisions that you make in your daily lives.
This is a prayer I use for myself and others in my life: “Lord I pray that we will grow in love; we will make wise choices; we will live with integrity; and we will become like Jesus.”