“Let’s play car. You drive, okay?” Three-year-old Bella handed me the plastic keys, and I revved up our “couch car” engine.
She climbed into the “passenger seat” next to me, pulled an invisible seatbelt across her lap, and firmly buckled it.
After we “drove” for a few seconds, she pulled down the car visor and opened the mirror. Then she pretended to put on her mascara and smoothed her hair. She carefully inspected her image before shutting the visor and placing her hands in her lap.
My jaw dropped. This was exactly what Bella’s mother did in the car. How could she have picked this up at such a young age? It made me realize that we are always being observed, whether by little children, our peers, or our elders.
Then I wondered: What are people observing about my relationship with my boyfriend? Could my relationship be impacting others?
I think that we all know that we, as individuals, can influence others with our lives. But have you ever thought about how you influence others as a couple? I often think of other couples that I admire, but I rarely consider that my boyfriend and I could be one of those couples. We’re not super Christians; we don’t have everything figured out. Plus, we’re too young. We don’t have years of experience. How could we be good influencers?
Yet, even in our youth, God calls us to be examples. In 1 Timothy 4:12, He challenges, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
Other people are observing our relationships: our younger siblings or cousins, our friends at church, and our peers. We need to ask ourselves: How are we influencing them? What example are we setting? We don’t have to wait to be perfect — which is good because we’ll never achieve perfection! We can start setting a positive example today.
In 1 Timothy, we find five areas in which we can influence others:
- Example of Speech—Are we lifting each other up or tearing each other down with our words? Are we encouraging each other? “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, only what is helpful for building others up according their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
- Example of Living—Are we conducting ourselves in a Christlike way? Are we a couple that thinks of others before ourselves? Are we honest, kind, generous, and patient? “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
- Example of Love—Are we caring for each other above ourselves? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
- Example of Faith—Are we pursuing God first and foremost in our relationship, or is He taking second place? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
- Example of Purity—Are we conducting ourselves in a pure way? Are we following God’s standard of purity or the world’s? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).