Too often I act before I think, which causes me to make poor choices and engage in sinful behaviors. While I know that I will never be perfect, that is not an excuse for not trying my utmost to “not sin” (1 John 2:1). I must endeavor to greater levels of “self-control.”
The matter of personal “self-control” was an essential part of New Testament doctrine. It was one of Paul’s three main topics with Felix (Acts 24:25); it was listed among the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23); it was included in the qualities that a Christian faith must produce in abundance (2 Pet. 1:5-8).
In all things, I must learn to think before I act. To that end, there are some things that I must strive to first consider before engaging in any action. In the last article, we addressed the question, “How will this affect my relationship with God?” Now, we must give attention to this concern: What kind of influence will this have on others?
If I take this action, could it hurt my family? All actions are different, as are the consequences. And all families are different. But, what impact could this have on my parents, my spouse, my children, my siblings, my grandchildren? Will this negatively affect any of them?
If I take this action, could it hurt the church? First, what impact would it have on individual members of the church? Also, how would this action reflect on the Lord’s church as a whole? The church should be my first priority and I should never do anything to tarnish the bride of Christ.
If I take this action, will others know that I love Christ? I claim to love Christ, and to be honest, I really do. So, when others see me taking this action, what message will that send to them about my feelings toward Christ and toward what He would have me to do?
If I take this action, will others want to hear from me about becoming a Christian? Is what I am doing Christ-like? Would I appear to be a hypocrite to engage in this activity and then talk to someone about obeying the gospel to become a Christian?
If I take this action, could it cause someone else to follow my example and do the same thing? Would I want little children at church doing this same thing? How would I react if I found out that a neighbor or coworker or family member decided to engage in this same kind of activity because they saw me do it first? Could this be a stumbling block?
My actions can hurt my influence…with a lot of people. I must be diligent to exercise self-control and to ask myself regularly, “What impact will this have on others?”