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Words of Faith 12-24-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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[9b] I then, as Paul--an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus--   [10] I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 


     Paul had an appeal to make.  In prison, Paul didn’t have much, but the one thing he had was influence.

     There is an old saying that it is not what you know but who you know.  There is truth in that.  For example, knowing Jesus makes a big difference.  And Him knowing you makes all the difference in eternity (Matthew 7:23).  Paul did not have that kind of influence, but he had a great deal.

     As an old man who was now a prisoner for Christ Jesus, Paul had become quite well known throughout the Christian world.  For at least 15 years, his letters had circulated.  His ministries had made a powerful impact.  His exploits were renowned.  He had become something of a legend in the ancient world of the early church. 

      Paul could have sent a verbal order that would have been equivalent to an executive decree, but this was not really helpful.  This was not the way of Jesus.  In fact, Paul made it a point not to “lord over” others in the way that the Romans did.  Bullying and forcing one’s way was simply not the way of Jesus.  But he could use influence.

      The dictionary defines influence as the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, or opinions of others.  Paul had influence.  By writing a letter regarding Onesimus he could produce an effect on the action, behavior, or opinion of Philemon.  Because of his friendship and his reputation, Paul could step in and in a few minutes dictate a letter that might make all the difference in the world to both Onesimus and Philemon.

     We all have influence.  We may not think so, but we all know people and have friendships.  We have circles in which we have a reputation.  We have people that we have helped in the past.  We have points of honor and respect that have come our way.  Influence allows us to change things.  It might be as simple as a word of encouragement.  It might be going and standing up for someone who needs advocacy.  It might be writing a letter of encouragement, or it could be a more formal agreement to serve as a reference.

     Influence is a commodity entrusted to us.  Influence does not just happen.  It is afforded to us by the Lord, and it put in place through hard work and time.  It should not be squandered, but it also should not be hoarded. 

      For Paul to put his name, reputation, and influence into play on behalf of a runaway slave was a huge gift.  He might well have said—No, I am going to save my influence for a potential donor or a connected Roman official or a wealthy benefactor.  But Paul went to bat for someone the world considered the lowest of low—a runaway slave accused of thievery.  Why?  Because he was a brother in Christ. No, a son, actually!  Paul had led Onesimus to Christ, and he was family.

      Here is a question.  What are you doing with your influence?  You have influence.  Every day you have choices about how to use your influence. You can influence people to try a new diet, or consider a Bible study.  You can influence a friend to watch the newest TV show or come visit your church.  You can influence a group to talk about the latest sports stats or the newest thing you have been learning about God and His character.

       You have influence.  You can take a stand for the people who will benefit you later, or you can take a position for those who have no one else to speak up for them.  You can add your letter for someone who is a shoo-in for a job, or you can take the extra time writing on behalf of someone who really struggles to find the right job.  Your influence makes a difference.

      You can step into a situation where someone is being cheated, or there is an injustice, or you can hold back and play it safe.  You can speak up when the Name of the Lord is defamed, or you can keep your mouth shut because it is more expedient to avoid the issue.  You can enter into those places that are risky and advocate for a marriage or the sanctity of life, or you can mind your own business.

      You have influence.  You can enter in with a negative word, or you can choose to be an encouragement.  You can concern yourself more with others than with yourself and make a huge difference.  You can watch for the way… keep an eye out for the moment… when just the right word will make all the difference. 


       Father God, thank Your for the bank of influence that you have entrusted to me.  Thank You the points of honor that You have afforded me.  Show me today, how to carefully spend out of that bank. In Jesus’ Name.


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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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