Aim To Build One Another Up
Just be there. Your loving presence is more of a comfort than you know. Listen, don’t talk. Love, don’t preach.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Is everything alright at your house? Well, I trust so, bless your heart. Nice to be back with you; this is your good friend Bob Cook, and we’re going to invest a few moments together in God’s inerrant, infallible, eternal Word, the Bible, and we’re walking around in the 5th Chapter of 1 Thessalonians (Paul’s first letter to the people who lived at Thessalonica.)
We’ve come now to Verse 11: “Wherefore,” said he, “comfort yourselves together and edify one another even as also ye do.” We talked about comfort; how do you comfort, and what happens? That word comfort is a very powerful word: parakaleo, in your Greek New Testament, means “beseech, comfort,” means “desire,” means “exhort,” means “pray.” All of those different renderings you’ll find in your King James Version under the word “comfort.” So, that wraps up a good deal of human relations, doesn’t it?
If you remember, I mentioned a few common sense things to you about comfort: Just be there, don’t sermonize or moralize. Just be there. Your loving presence is more of a comfort than you know. Listen, don’t talk. Love, don’t preach. Encourage by positive reinforcement the things that are good; you encourage them by positive reinforcement. If you’re going to make any suggestions, do it by indirection (“Oh, by the way…what would you think of this?”) and then continue in helpful contact. Don’t drop the person, comfort.
Well, we come to this word called edify, which means “build up.” To build, to build up, to edify, and there’s another rendering which means “to make bold; to embolden.” So, he says, “edify one another even as also ye do.” Well, there are a number of passages in the Word of God that have to do with edifying, and I think we start with the concept of what your duty is toward another person, not to tear down, but to build up, like you would build a house. Build one another up. When you look at another person, another child of God, the question in your mind needs to be, “How can I build this person, strengthen him or her? How can I build up the Christian virtues and characteristics? How can I strengthen this person’s ministry? That’s the attitude that you and I need to have toward people.
Now, it has to be admitted that sometimes we’re pretty negative as we approach people, the reason being that we have a past history that has conditioned us. When a person who always breaks his promises to you comes with some kind of an offer, you’re immediately wary and you say, “Oh, here we go again.” Isn’t it true? Take a person who is always critical of you, for example. I’ve had people, when I was in the pastorate, come and say, “You’re not gonna like this, Pastor, but I’m gonna tell you for your own good!” Well, I found myself feeling defensive before they ever said another word.
So, we bring our own personal biases, I guess, to the process of interacting with other people. But having admitted that, we need to work on the idea of strengthening the other person. Paul says in Philippians, “Look not every man on his own things only, but every man also on the things of others. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Let each one consider the other better than himself.”
I’ve often told the young people at the college in years past, “Every person you ever meet will be better at something than you are, and you need to respect him or her for that.” So, edification starts with an attitude, doesn’t it? If you’re going to help another person, you have to want to, and you have to respect that person for what he or she really is, not for the faults that one may see in them. Love is unqualified personal regard; you accept a person just as he is, “warts and all,” as they say. If I’m going to build you up, I can’t tear you down at the same time.
Dale Carnegie is not alone in suggesting that if you’re going to criticize anything, you need to do so very gently and mix it on both sides of the criticism with approbation and praise. Carnegie says, “You want to put criticism like the filling in a sandwich. On either side of the criticism, you need praise and approbation and encouragement.” Well, be that as it may, let’s check our attitude. Before we engage in conversation with another person, let’s make sure that down in our hearts, we really want to help and to build.
Now, edification does not mix with showing off how much you know. “I’m gonna show you, buddy, I’ll help you with this.” No, 1st Corinthians 8:1, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.” To want to help comes from the heart, not from how much you know. Do you want to write that down in the notebook of your mind? Real help for another person has to come from the heart first, not just from the head. “Knowledge puffeth up.” “Now, I’ll tell you; I’ll show you…”: that isn’t it. Love edifieth. Let me help.
Then, he says, “All things are lawful to me, but not all things edify.” You have to realize that there are some things that we say and do that might be all right for us; we can get away with it, as they say. We can explain it. We might even defend it. But, he says, all things edify not. For meat, destroy not the kingdom of God, as Paul says in another place. So, you have to ask before you say or do anything, “Is this going to help the other person?” You’re trying to win somebody to the Lord, and in casual conversation, (because you’re good friends; you’re not always talking religion) you think of a very funny story that you might share with that friend. Now, it’s not risqué; it’s not a dirty story, but it has some elements in it that might, maybe, give a little offense. And so, you stop to think, “Hey, I want to win this person for Christ; I’d better not share a joke like that, because it wouldn’t help him any.” Do you ever think about that?
You see, the simple things in life are the ones that make the impressions that last. The simple things in life, the casual comments…I’ve had people remind me of things I said twenty years previously that I didn’t even remember, but they remembered them. You know?
Back in the 1950’s, we began sending teenagers abroad as gospel teams. My own two older daughters went on one of those teams to Venezuela, and the years passed. Now, it’s 1959 or 1960, or into the 60’s, and I met somebody on the street. He said, “Now, I can tell you. Do you remember in 1949, I said, “We ought to send some of these young people overseas to preach the gospel, and you said, “Never happen.” And he said, “Now, look.” He reminded me. It took him twenty years to get up the courage to remind me of something I had said quickly off the top of my head.
Alright, it’s the small, casual, small things in life that make an impact, and so I need to think, don’t I? Is this going to help the other person? Is it going to edify him or her? Is it going to build up that precious life that Christ has redeemed and which I am trying to encourage and strengthen? Yes, you have to be thoughtful. You can’t just drift through the situations of life. You have to think about it. But when you do, you’ll be richly rewarded because the Holy Spirit will guide you to say and to do those things that help others. “For it is God,” Paul says in Philippians 2, “that worketh in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.”
Now, this whole matter of building another person up needs to become a quest, a life quest. He said follow after (that’s the Greek verb dioko, which means “pursue,” like a hunter pursues his quarry). Pursue those things wherewith one may edify another. Look for them. Pursue them. A salesman pursues his contacts, so he can sell his goods. A hunter pursues his quarry so he can bring home something to eat for his family. An officer of the law pursues a fleeing fugitive so that he can bring him back to justice. Make it your quest, your pressing business in life, to pursue those things wherewith one may edify another.
Now, you see, as I talk with you about this, there’s a voice in my mind that says, “Oh, that’s a lot of work. You’ve got to be doing that all the time; you’ve got to think about that all the time…that’s a lot of work. Alright, let’s face it. It’s work to be a Christian, in that sense. Salvation is free, but it’s not cheap, and we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, Paul says in Ephesians 2:10, “Created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” which God hath ordained that we should walk in them. Don’t flinch at the responsibilities of a Christian to build up other people; pursue them.
Now, what you do affects the whole church. 1 Corinthians 14:5 says that what you do ends in the church, that the church may receive edifying. He’s speaking there of prophesying, which is not only foretelling but forth-telling the truth of God. And so, in your interaction with people in church, you need again to ask the question, is this going to help or tear down? Many a speech in a church business meeting might well have been omitted. You and I know that. It’s not always necessary to point out negative things. Ask yourself the question before you make the next speech in a committee meeting or a church business meeting or a deacon’s meeting. Ask yourself the question, “Is this going to help; is this going to build up, or is it going to tear down?” And so, Paul says, “Let all things be done unto edifying.”
That wraps it up. Well, we have to stop here, but I’ll take this up briefly the next time we get together. Build other people up. Don’t tear them down.
Dear Father, help us today to build other people up. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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