Jesus emphasizes love, and one of the major avenues through which I see Him asking us to show our love is through edifying one another – especially those who are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now, before you get a bit concerned, allow me to say this: I realize the importance of the Great Commission and our honor and privilege, along with the absolute command, to go out and spread the gospel of Christ to others who don’t know Him; so that they too, might believe upon Him.
However, I am a firm believer in the fact that Jesus values working from the inside out.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to
those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10
See that word there? ESPECIALLY.
Sometimes, I feel that we can get so caught up in trying to reach the lost, that we forsake our own family. Not just our earthly families, either, but our entire family in Christ. This, in a way, can be an idol of sorts…focusing in on only those who are lost to Jesus while forsaking the body of believers in the process.
I know I have been guilty of it. And the Lord has really helped me with that through this blogging endeavor. What He leads me to share is for everyone, Christian or not – but primarily, it is intended to edify fellow believers in Christ.
Yes, it too, can become an idol if I am not careful – anything can. I cannot let it come before my relationship with Him, or my own earthly family. But I can tell you now, that it, along with those I interact with in my own fellowship at church, is right there at the top of my list of priorities (until, or unless God leads me otherwise).
God has made that very clear to me! And the cool thing, is that through this blog, the Lord has offered me more ways to share the gospel with both believers and non-believers than I ever could have imagined.
God does awesome things in the most unexpected places.
Another way I see God teaching me is in helping me to see that edification means a lot of different things. Yes, it entails encouraging others, but it is not limited to just that. I must say, that I do see that we sometimes are good about admonishing one another, challenging one another, even praying for one another – but when it comes to truly and genuinely encouraging and praising one another, I feel we often fall short.
Who do I mean by “we?” Pretty much everyone. But, I am focusing today on those of us who follow after Christ. “We” Christians.
This is something that is very close to my heart. And I have been led to study and pray more and more about what God shares with us in the scriptures about edification of the church; our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
In particular, I tend to see that our culture is pretty caught up in only seeking after what “feels good”, regardless of whether or not it is right or wrong. We have to be cautious about that, because along with love, we are to seek truth and righteousness. One without the other – well, it causes a lot of problems, doesn’t it?
But, sometimes I think that in the endeavor not to feed into that whole feel-good focus, we, as Christians, hold back our praise of one another concerning who we are in Christ, the spiritual gifts that He has given us and our obedience and diligence in using them, or just plain encouraging each other.
In other words, so as not to feed into the tendency towards “self”, we practically shut one another out and hold out on each other. I truly don’t believe that is what Jesus wants for us.
So we really do need, as Christians, to study edification a lot if you ask me, and then ask God to help us to live it out just as He asks of us.
How are we to be reinforced in who we are in Christ Jesus as a body of believers if we don’t build one another up? I know that we should be solid enough in our own walk with the Lord to be able to not worry about what others think of us (individually) but Jesus tells us to do this for one another! He must have good reason for that, don’t you think?
No, I don’t believe it is all about getting caught up in needing one another’s approval and praise for the wrong reasons – I really don’t. I think this is something the enemy uses to keep us from taking care of Christ’s family.
So, i’s not just one thing without the other – edification. It’s not just encouraging people, while holding back when the time comes to come alongside them, in love, and speak the truth or offer correction so as to help one another to grow. And it’s not about teaching, correction, admonition, exhortation, without adding in our uplifting praise for others as they walk out their faith and use their awesome God-given gifts.
It’s not truth without love, and it’s not love without truth. And both entail action, not just word and thought.
Edification of the church is HUGE for Jesus. And, He tells us to make this our priority even more as we sense that the time of His return is drawing near. But even in day to day life alone, it is emphasized all throughout scripture as being extremely vital to healthy spiritual lives and a healthy bride of Christ as His church, here on earth.
I think we’d do well to take care of Christ’s bride and family, don’t you?
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are
doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
“And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special
abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.” 1 Corinthians 14:12 NLT
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things
wherewith one may edify another.” Romans 14:19 NIV
I took the liberty of seeking to find the different things that describe edification in our own English language as well. These cannot replace what Christ has to say to us in the scriptures, but do help us to wrap our minds around all of the many facets of what true edification entails.
- To build up
- To encourage
- To help grow
- To enable or equip
- To comfort
- To make strong
- To encourage
- To restore
- To nurture
- To enlighten
- To uplift
- To instruct
- To guide
- To help improve
- To teach
- To establish
- To inspire
- To enrich
- To lift
- To regenerate
- To restore
- To transform
- To illuminate
- To brighten
- To ennoble
- To renew
- To build, build, build.
Kind of fitting how Jesus chose, amongst other things, to be a carpenter when He walked this soil we are walking upon, eh? He took time to fellowship with others. He made time to invest in His people. He built them up and made them feel special – because of who they were in HIM and as part of the family of God!
By the way – this is a far cry from “feeding someone’s ego.”
It’s about building. That takes action. That takes commitment. That takes perseverance, planning, and even creativity. And no – it doesn’t come easy – but it is sooooo very important.
Do we build up, or do we tear down? Do we start to build, and then stop mid-stream, or leave the project unfinished? Or do we just slap stuff together with no heart behind the whole thing and call it good?
Are we afraid that God is not big enough to take care of each individual’s pride or ego issues and bring glory to Himself anyway if we dare to build another brother or sister in Christ up with encouragement and praise and they become prideful and arrogant? I would venture to say that if that happens, it is due to a heart issue within that individual, not due to the fact that they received “too much encouragement and praise” from a fellow believer in Christ. Honestly, I think that if we hold out on each other, that is one of the things that can cause one to seek the love, comfort, and peace and encouragement that the “world” offers – so, if anything, our holding back may be the very thing that leads someone astray.
So, are we to use that as an excuse to hold out on them – hiding behind our endeavor to glorify Him, and Him alone, so as not to feed into other people’s egos? Or are we going to do what God asks us to do and edify one another and then leave the rest to Him?
Yes, I would say that we, the body of believers and followers of Jesus, are a big part of Him.
We, the church, are the bride of Christ!!! We are His beloved!
I think He wants for us to cherish His bride, don’t you? This is a major way that we actually DO give all the glory to God!
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in
perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members
of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ
dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and
as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to
God.” Colossians 3:14-16
Again, this is not just limited to words – it entails action. But I see that so often in today’s world, we even withhold the words, let alone back them up with sincere and consistent actions.
It’s about the heart, the mindset, the mission, the disposition, the perspective, the attitude, the commitment in Christ that we have to continually build up the church.
It’s about true love and obedience….to HIM.
~ The bride of Christ
~ The children of our Father in heaven.
~ “The chosen people, Royal priesthood, holy nation a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9)
Yes, we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we should. But we do need to help to remind one another of just who we are in Christ Jesus!
Let’s celebrate this out there in the world, friends! Let’s make it a point to love on others, starting with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s reach out, go all out, and give out all that we tend to withhold in the name of Jesus!
And then, to HIM, be all the glory!