“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now”(Phi. 1:3-5).
There are certain people in life who make a definitive impact that is far superior to others. It does not mean that they are better, or that you love them more than others, but they have done things in your life that taught you something useful in a more vivid way than anyone else. Paul was one who was constantly telling those to whom he wrote of his thoughts and remembrances of them and how they impacted his life. Unfortunately, we often leave those feelings unsaid until the individual to whom they apply is gone from this life. Let me encourage you to not make that mistake. Many good, godly servants have never known the fruits they have born in the lives of others because they were never told; but it does not have to be such.
Therefore, I would like to briefly use Paul’s example to mention three men who have made a distinct impact on my spiritual life, who I thank God constantly that they were a part of my life, and who I pray regularly for their continued well-being. I will not use their full names, they will know who they are, but maybe their examples will encourage you as well.
I thank God for my father. The man who has had the greatest impact on my spiritual life is the one I spent the first 18 years of my life watching and have tried, in some small measure, to spend the last 11 years emulating. Believe it or not, for a preacher my father is a man of few words, but the lessons he taught me through his actions have always spoken volumes. I saw in my father a commitment to always making the right decision, even if it was not the easy one; his love for the truth above popularity and job security. The times where he did not get angry when most would have (and probably would have excused him for doing so); the love and excitement that my father instilled in me for God’s Word, because I saw it in his eyes and in his teaching. I thank God every day for my father, and I pray that my children will see in their father the same things that I have seen in mine. God bless you mom and dad.
I thank God for Charles. I met Charles a number of years ago and he has made a lasting impact on my life like few others. Charles is a quiet, unassuming man who taught me a great deal about being a humble servant. Charles helped people on many occasions and they never knew it was him. He was never one who desired the spotlight, nor was he one who cared whether he was recognized for his deeds. The way that he fulfilled the principles of Matthew 6:1-18 have remained in my mind throughout the years. On the occasions he helped me and my family (and they were many) he would never accept anything in return, but his response was always, “The way that you thank me is that when you see someone else in need and you have the ability to help them: do it.” I have tried to fulfill that sentiment in my life and to use it as a motivator in my work proclaiming the Gospel. I haven’t been in touch with Charles as much as I’d have liked over the last few years, but he is constantly in my prayers and the thanks for the lessons of charitableness and humility I learned from him will last a lifetime.
I thank God for Joey. There are some people that you meet in life that have an impact in so many ways it is hard to elaborate on them all. In the time that we have been here in Mississippi, there are many people that we love, lean on, and give thanks for daily: but in my life personally there is none that I am more thankful for than Joey. Joey has taught me far more than I will probably ever be able to teach him. He has taught me, through his life and actions, the preciousness of the blood of Christ in a more vivid way than anyone else. He has enhanced my ability to appreciate the mercy and grace of God in a way few others could. In the means by which we got to this day and time, there could not have been two more different roads than the ones Joey and I have travelled; but now we travel the same road as brothers and I am thankful every day for the relationship with Joey that has made me a better Christian and, I think, a better preacher because of it.
These words are not sufficient to say what is in my heart for each of these men, but God knows and I hope that this communicates a small sense of understanding as to the impact on my spiritual life each of these men has had. There are many others whose love and friendship I cherish deeply and whose service to Christ is above reproach and encouraging in the greatest of ways, but there are always some that stand out in the crowd. I believe that with each Christian, there are those they could look to and say the same thing. We are one body and as parts of the same body we rely on one another for comfort, strength, encouragement, and love in Christ.
Let me issue you a challenge today: take the time to tell three of the people that have made an impact in your life that they have done so. It is not to puff them up with pride, or to make them feel greater than others, but to thank them for their godly influence and let them know that their labors are not in vain. Send them a note on facebook, an e-mail, a card, or if they are already gone from this life: remember them, acknowledge them in your heart, and thank God for the time you had with them. May God bless you as you serve him.