Wednesday, April 30, 2008

the power of influence

Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.

Proverbs 25:5

Solomon's instruction is written specifically to kings, but it can apply to anyone in a position of authority or influence: lawmakers and enforcers, teachers, parents, pastors--even writers like me, whose words can affect others. His advice? Take away the wicked from before you.

This verse is a testament to the power of influence. The people we keep "before us" will influence the way we think and act. This, in turn, affects those who are under our authority or influence. Solomon phrases this negatively: if we take the wicked away, we will be established in righteousness. If we don't--well, that's left up to us to deduce.

Of course, none of us keeps a court full of people. But we do choose who to spend our time with. We choose the churches where we attend, the preachers we listen to, and the Bible study we engage in. We may keep TV before us, with its many faces, voices, and ideas. We may keep a court of authors whose writing shapes our perspective.

As people who recognize a difference between right and wrong, we must be careful about what influences we keep in our lives. While it is good to keep an open ear and heart, it is not good to allow "the wicked" an unbalanced place. No matter how strong we may think ourselves, none of us is immune to the subtle power of influence.



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