How Does My Life Affect Those Around Me?
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world . . . Philippians 2:14-16
Occasionally when I speak to those struggling with addiction, afterwards someone will come up to me and tell me that, back when I worked in the Emergency Room, I was the one who first prescribed them an opioid pain medication. In their addiction story, that is the beginning of the downward spiral. I always ask what the injury was and I take some comfort in the knowledge that my prescription would have been considered appropriate medical treatment, but still, it’s on my conscience. Did I cause his addiction? Is that how my life affected his?
Whether we like it or not, our attitudes, words, and actions impact those around us. We may not radically transform everyone in our circle of influence, but at some point, someone is going to meet us and be significantly changed for the encounter. Maybe they look at our lives and want to be like us, or maybe they look at our lives and vow not to be like us. For better or worse, others watch us. How does my life affect those around me? What do others see when they look at me?
In yesterday’s passage, Paul instructed us to be blameless and innocent. He went on to say that to live this way was to serve as lights shining in a world of darkness. He said that humanity is crooked, twisted, and broken and that we, as followers of Christ, are supposed to live in such a manner that we point others to him.
Paul didn’t teach that we point others to God only with our words. Rather, we serve as lights in the dark with our entire existence. It is our way of life that others see. We can claim faith, but it’s how we live that most impacts those around us – for better or worse. How does my life affect those around me?
Looking back, I can see how my active addiction affected others and it isn’t encouraging. Now, in recovery, I must strive every day to live differently, realizing that my behavior impacts those around me. If I want to walk in faith and recovery, I must guard my words and actions. I don’t want to point others to destruction. I want my life to be a beacon that points others to faith and recovery. I want my life to serve as a light shining in a world of darkness.
That’s not grandiose. As Christians, that’s simply what we’re supposed to be.