We are "shaped" by a lot of things ranging from the influence of our parents in our years of youth, the companions we choose as we travel our various paths in life, and even the mentors we choose later in life to act as guides for how it is we will work, grow, and act. Add to this the various influences of authors we admire, the plethora of input from media of all sorts, and the ever-evolving "social" content we are exposed to each and every day and you can see how it is we might get a little skewed too much in one direction, or easily distracted from the stuff which really matters in life. Input abounds - filtering what we "put in" is quite a different matter - one neglected by a good many of us at least some of the time! Instead of being "haphazardly" influenced or shaped by whatever comes our way in life, wouldn't it be more productive and safer for each of us to actually be a little better focused on what it is we will choose to allow as "influencers" in our life?
Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised; then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery because I trusted your Word. Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—your commandments are what I depend on. Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; and I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom; then I’ll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed. I cherish your commandments—oh, how I love them!—relishing every fragment of your counsel. (Psalm 119:41-48 MSG)
The things we allow to shape our lives are most "telling" of who is actually at the center of our lives. If God's love is what is shaping us, then this is pretty "telling" of God's influence in us - that he is at the center of who we are, what we become, and what we will "do" with our lives. The actions of salvation are shaping influences in our lives. If we stop for just a moment to consider those actions, we might conclude they become "positive examples" of how it is we are to act moving forward. You see, salvation was a "one time" event - the moment we said "yes" to Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives. Yet it is a "life-long" event in that his love and actions of salvation are influencing us and shaping our lives each and every day. We see his love deeply expressed in his actions of grace on our behalf - on the cross and each time we bring our needs, failures, and monumental short-comings to the cross for his continued forgiveness. We experience the intensity of his care for each of us as we look at the various ways he navigates us around life's challenges, keeping us safe on our journey. Salvation's actions continue in our lives on a daily basis - influencing our every step if we will give them the opportunity to do so.
There is something "right" about following the right "influencers" in our life. In the end, what is produced will be solid, lasting, and totally reliable. If we have ever been on "shaky ground" with any activity in our lives, we understand the importance of having "reliability" in what ever it is we base our actions upon. Believe it or not, every action has a reaction - get into the right stuff and the right stuff will get into you! Be in the place or position of being "rightly influenced" and your actions will reveal the "solidness" of this influence. In other words, salvation will be "worked out" in you - not just a one time action at the point you said "yes" to Jesus.
God's counsel comes from his Word - this is why I so often point us to considering the entirety of it and being regular partakers of its pages. We may not get everything the first time we read it, but if we continue to partake of it with a faithfulness toward discovering the truths hidden within its pages, the scriptures will eventually get into us and become "influencers" of our actions and even our reactions! Counsel is instruction - given so as to direct both the judgment of the one taking it in and then produce the action desired as a result of the instruction. For example, when I was learning to play the guitar, my teacher taught me where to place my fingers to make a "C-chord" or a "G-chord". He taught me how to count the beats in a song, not just be able to finger the chords. Then he taught me how to play with others, complimenting their "style" of playing so we weren't all just strumming in our own little section of the string ensemble. I was embracing the instruction so I might learn not only a new skill, but become a part of a bigger "symphony" of players.
God's counsel has a way of bringing us into the place where we learn the basics, add the "rhythm" to our actions, and then "blend" us into a symphony of worship with others who also have made Jesus the center of their lives. This is the purpose of his Word - to get us into a place where we move in rhythm with Jesus. As we discover how he loves, we learn to love as he does. As we uncover the truths of his unmerited favor (grace), we are moved to extend it to others even when they don't deserve it or seek it. As we are influenced by the challenge to rise above the influences of this world, we are drawn into the safety of his presence. Now, think for just a moment - how many words do you hear in a day? Some psychologists have actually studied this and say a woman speaks about 20,000 words a day, while a man only speaks about 7,000 a day. So, if we are predominately surrounded by women, chances are we listen to multiplied thousands in one day! Now, how many of those words actually "get into" our lives? We have to "allow" those words to get into us - but by not guarding our hearts against words which shouldn't be our influencers, we sometimes allow in way more than we should!
We can choose "random" influencers in our lives - or we can purposefully choose to be influenced by the words which will bring growth, foundation, and a future to our lives. The "filter" we apply to the words we allow in is what will make the difference in how well we fair in the times of our hardest challenges. Just sayin!