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27th September: Unconscious Influence

Let your hearing towards one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5 (NEB)

None of us can go through life without unconsciously influencing others for good or for bad. People laid their sick friends where Peter's shadow might fall on them (Acts 5:15). Such an act smacks of superstition, but teaches a lesson. Peter had no idea where his shadow fell; nor do we. But we are casting a shadow all the time, one that helps or hinders, encourages or depresses, transmits comfort or coldness. It has been said that one's unconscious influence greatly outweighs any conscious influence one might have.

Our influence depends on what we are rather than on what we do. A cable can transmit electrical power only if attached to the mains, and a pipe carried water only if it is connected to the tank. So what we transmit depends on the source from which our behaviour and manner of speech derive.

The NEB translation of Philippians 2:5 provides a clue: 'Let your bearing to one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus'.

Our relationship to God through Christ will determine our behaviour to others. Fulfilling Christ's second commandment, my duty to my neighbour, is dependent on complying with the first. We can only in some small measure reflect Christ if we spend time with him. Do our attitudes or our speech reflect a relationship with our master? The way we talk to or ignore the menial staff, the smile which is or is not present when we talk to patients, colleagues or residents? And remember that a smile has been described as a curve that makes many things straight!

They said to Peter, 'Thy speech betrayeth thee' (Mt 26:73).

Oh that it might be said of me,
Surely thy speech betrayeth thee.
Thou hast been with Jesus of Galilee,
With Jesus of Galilee.
Let is be seen that with thee I have been,
Jesus, my Lord and my Saviour.
Let it be known I am always thine own,
By all my speech and behaviour.

E H G Sargent

Further reading: Mt 26:69-75. Acts 4:13-22.


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