To Make Decisions, Use the Influence Test
“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” (Romans 14:12-13 TLB).
Everything you do influences someone else. Some decisions are good for you and also good for others. But sometimes it’s tempting to make a decision that might be fine for you but would harm the people around you.
That’s why it’s helpful to use the Influence Test when you’re making decisions. You simply ask: Will this harm other people?
The Influence Test is the opposite of what our culture encourages. Our culture teaches you to think of yourself only: What do you need? What do you want?
But God expects you to think of people around you, 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).
Whether you like it or not, you’re being watched by other people. We all are 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. God takes this seriously.
One vivid picture of this is with parents and other people who have children in their lives. You’re directly influencing the next generation as your children watch the decisions you make. They see whether you treat rude people with respect or returned rudeness. They know if you lie to your boss about being sick just so you can get a day off. They’re learning what’s appropriate by what you watch on television and what you let them watch.
Maybe you don’t have kids in your life, but almost 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 checkout at the retail store, or the restaurant server who’s having a hard day and takes it out on you.
As a Christian, you can’t just respond to these things however you want. If you do, the non-Christians around you may look and say, “If that’s what a Christian is, forget it!”
As best as I know how, I’m trying to live my life in such a way that people will have to make up stuff about me to accuse me. That’s my goal, and I hope it’s your goal, too.
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?”
Talk It Over
Why does a Christian need to consider other people when making decisions?
When has a decision you made been harmful to someone around you? When has a decision been good for you and for other people?
Make a list of the people in your sphere of influence. As you go through the next few days, think about how your decisions will affect them.
This devotional © 2020 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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