Galatians 2:13 (NIV)
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
You have influence
We all have influence.
There is at least one person that looks up to us.
It might be a little brother, niece, friend, co-worker, or child.
Some of you might even have a significant following on social media. You might have several people who look to you for advice and counseling when they are going through difficult times.
If you ask them to do something, believe something, or act a certain way, 9 times out of 10 they will do it. Your words have power over their behavior.
Be careful how you use it
It scares me anyways.
And because of this, I have to constantly ask myself what am I doing with my influence.
How am I leading those who might follow in my footsteps?
What kind of example am I giving those who are in my shadow?
And I think you should be asking the same or similar questions.
Peter had to learn this the hard way
In Galatians 2:13 Paul confronts Peter about his behavior. Peter is an influential and well-known leader among the early churches. When Peter speaks people listen and when he acts people notice.
But Paul doesn’t like what he sees.
When certain people are not present, he hangs out and even eats with the Gentiles. But when certain men from James come he draws back and separates himself from the Gentiles.
Yes, Peter’s behavior is plainly hypocritical and that’s bad enough. But even worse than that is the fact that his actions have an impact on those he has influence over.
You can hear the disappoint and sadness in Paul’s words as he mentions that even Barnabas was led astray because of Peter’s hypocrisy.
Peter has so much influence that his actions cause Barnabas to act out of character. This Barnabas had been previously nicknamed “son of encouragement” and he was the one who believed in Paul when no one else.
Paul confronts Peter because he is being dangerously hypocritical.
What about you?
So how are you leading? Where are the people following you going to end up? Are you leading them astray?
In this story, Paul addresses Peter’s hypocrisy head on. Are there any areas where this might be the case for you?
- Are you telling your kids that God is important but you don’t read your Bible, pray, or make Church a priority?
- Do you talk about being disciplined when your life is border-line chaos?
- You walk around telling people that the Bible says to love Him and love others as yourself but you say hateful things about people who are from a different country, religion, or political belief.
- There are specific sins you constantly talk about and how people who commit those sins are probably not even saved, but you get upset if someone even mentions something you’re guilty of – like gluttony, gossip, greed, pride, or racism.
With much influence comes much responsibility
God has given us influence. People are watching us, to see what we will do or say.
Let’s give them an example that honors God.
Let’s give them an example that says we have died to our selves and we don’t walk following our own desire. But instead, we follow Jesus.
And where He leads we will follow. Even if that takes us into uncomfortable situations that make us scared, anxious, and uneasy. Don’t let fear cause you to lead others astray. Go back and read Galatians 2 – Peter did what he did out of FEAR.
So what are you doing with your influence?
Hopefully, you are following the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that as others follow your lead, you are leading them straight to Jesus.