This verse, written by the Apostle Paul, has special meaning for me. I can still remember the day the Lord showed it to me in a fresh new way. I was feeling very discouraged over the lack of faith of several of my loved ones, and I was pouring my heart out to the Lord, lamenting over my powerlessness to make a difference. He led me to this Scripture, and it fairly leapt off the page into my heart. It became God's special promise to me that if I would just concentrate on devoting myself to Him, and focusing on my own behavior, He would honor and reward my obedience by using me to impact my loved ones and draw them to Him.
Proverbs 10:17 (NIV) says: "He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray." The devil will try to convince us that it doesn't matter how we live, but the Bible says otherwise. Each day, by our actions, we choose to influence others in a positive or negative way. The Amplified Bible puts it this way: "He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others. And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others." (Proverbs 10:17 AMP) Just as we can do others a lot of good by living disciplined lives wholly devoted to the Lord, we can also do them a lot of harm by living "sloppy" lives.
When you say this to some Christians, they bristle because they simply don't want to be held accountable to that extent. But whether they like it or not, God sees them as role models, and they will answer to Him for their selfishness and lack of concern for their fellow man. Instead of seeing this responsibility as a burden, believers should rejoice that they have God-given power to make a real difference in this world for His glory. Job 22:30 (NIV) says: "He will deliver even one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands." We don't have to be perfect to have the "clean hands" that Scripture refers to here. We just need to have a heart that is bent toward God's will - a heart that wants above all else to please Him. Then the Lord will save even those who are "not innocent," simply because of our devotion to Him.
James 5:16 (NLT) says: "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results." It's easy for us to doubt the truth of this verse when we have prayed and stood in faith for someone's salvation and deliverance, and have seen little to encourage us. But God doesn't want us to depend on what we discern through our five senses. He wants us to go deeper than that, and to firmly believe and hope in His Word. If you have trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior, your prayers have immeasurable power. Satan wants you to doubt that, though, because if you don't, you will persevere in prayer and eventually see the evidence of your prayer power.
One of the main reasons why we don't see a greater move of the Spirit of God in the lives of others is because most Christians lose heart and give up before they see the answers to their prayers and the fulfillment of God's promises. I have a relative who I have prayed for and ministered to for years, and who has persisted in unbelief and bitterness toward God and others. Recently, I got so disgusted that I decided I would continue to pray for her, but to do no more than that. I was astonished when shortly afterwards, she began telling me about all the wonderful Biblical teaching she was listening to and being blessed by. These radical changes in my loved one seemed to come "out of the blue." But the truth is that they were a direct result of the multitude of prayers I said for her, and my determination to set a Christlike example for her.
If there are some loved ones in your life who you long to see saved and delivered, please know that "by the obedience of one," many can be "made righteous." You can make a difference in your family, your school, and your workplace. If you will just concentrate on serving the Lord with all your heart, and glorifying Him with your daily life, He will honor your obedience by using you in mighty ways to lead multitudes to Him!
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for giving me the privilege and the power to touch and change lives for Your glory. Today, I renew my commitment to love and serve You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30-31) Thank You for using me in new and exciting ways for Your glory as I walk in obedience to You!
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