Christians gather together to do two things. To bring glory/honor/worship/praise to God and to edify one another. If that is true.. then how come so many leave without having grown? How come so many walk away from a gathering no closer to God than before? How come so many walk away from a gathering feel pulled down, hurt or condemned?
Sometimes it seems we spend more time competing, proving we are better than one another, that we forget that it has nothing to do with us in the first place… it’s about Him and those around us. It’s about glorifying God and loving those around us, and edifying them.
I think we’ve forgotten one of the core reasons Christians are to come together.
Let’s take a look at this passage in Hebrews.
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Paraphrased, this passage basically says, we have the boldness to enter into the holiest places because of Jesus dying for us! We have a new and living way (the way is alive!!) which has set us apart through his sacrifice! We have a high priest! We have assurance of faith, we have been cleaned and made white as snow! Let us hold onto our faith because He is faithful! We have ALL of these amazing things… sooooo let’s provoke one another to LOVE and GOOD WORKS, always exhorting (encouraging) each other!
We have so much to hang on to, so many wonderful promises… so it should be natural to then gather together and encourage one another, pushing each other towards that high calling of Christ Jesus.
This word “provoke” that we find in verse 25, we so often use as a negative word. If I were to tell you that someone “provoked” me, you would think that they made me angry or pushed me into doing something bad. But the word actually can mean the incitement of anything… it means to stimulate or push someone to do something. So often people are provoked into bad things… so why not into good things!?
As Christians, we are supposed to be provoking one another into acts of love and kindness, into good things. Encouraged to serve, to grow closer to our Lord.
Paul writes to the Corinthians and makes sure they understand that everything he and other godly leaders are doing is for the edifying of those they serve.
2 Corinthians 12:19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
The word “edifying” or “edify” means to build up. It means to help someone grow, to raise them up, make them better, to help them. It is a positive thing, born of love, out of a desire to see others grow closer to Christ and become stronger, which leads to the fruits of the spirit. If you are building someone up, you are helping them towards love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, etc.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Every godly leader should have the word “edify” in mind always. That is their job… to edify the church, to grow the church. Every service, every meeting, every gathering… it’s for a purpose. Yes, to glorify God, to come before Him in obedience, but also to edify one another, to grow those coming together, so they may leave better and closer to Christ than when they arrived. If the gathering does not grow those in attendance in some way, what was the point? Why do it?
The body of Christ is designed to edify itself, to help itself grow. Every Christian has a unique piece to give, a unique gift or task that they can contribute to grow the whole, to edify the whole body.
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
This passage tells us that all these gifts are given to us for the perfecting of the saints, to edify the whole body of Christ. That every “joint” or every working part (every Christian) can contribute to the increase of the whole body of believers by edifying each other in love. Remembering the passage from Romans that edifying ought to bring peace as well as being born from love.
By edifying one other, we grow the whole body of Christ. No part is independent of the rest. For example: My hand edifies my body by grabbing hold of a taco and bringing it to my mouth, my mouth edifies my body by taking a bite and chewing that taco, my esophagus, stomach and digestive system edifies the body by directing the food into my system and digesting it. All the while, the foot feels like it has nothing to contribute… except that it was the part of the body that made the body walk over to the table to get the taco in the first place. The body works together to edify itself as a whole. Every part, every person in the body has something to contribute, to offer the body of Christ. We ought to always be looking to how we can edify the whole body of Christ.
Remember! Let’s provoke one another to LOVE and GOOD WORKS, always exhorting (encouraging) each other!
1 Corinthians 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
One of the biggest and greatest things you can do for the betterment of the church, for the kingdom of God is to edify the church. To building up those around you. Not to detract from the importance of sharing the Gospel, but in our gatherings and day to day interactions with brothers and sisters in Christ, we are told we should excel in edifying the church. Oh, how I pray the Lord grows me to be able to better edify the church!!
Everyone has something to contribute
1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
Again, everything we do when we gather together is for the purpose of edifying one another. Otherwise… we just shouldn’t do it! The passage above from 1 Corinthians is an example of how when we come together, we can each bring something to share. Just yesterday, we had a Bible study and Zebediah, one of my dear friends, played music and led us in praise and worship. We were all edified by that music and spent some great time in worship. Sometimes we have a song to contribute, something new we learned, a prayer or even just a kind word.
Encouraging each other is something I feel the church has forgotten to do.
When I served as a youth leader, you know what meant the most to me? What was the biggest encouragement to me? Those few kind words from a grateful parent or youth. I spent countless hours preparing a message each week, spent every Friday from 3pm until midnight at the church, had over 20 teens between the ages of 14 and 18 at each meeting with only one helper (if that)… I had alot to do and it was hard work and yes, sometimes I made mistakes, sometimes it wasn’t perfect, sometimes I was discouraged. Sometimes all I needed was that kind word from a parent, a “thank you” or “we appreciate you”. You never know what simple act of encouragement will mean to someone.
So… if you have nothing else to give, give a smile… give a word of encouragement. It could mean all the world to someone.
Making sure we edify with the right motivations
Romans 12: 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
The two greatest commandments are to love the Lord they God with all of your being… and to love thy neighbor as thyself. LOVE! It is so key to the Christian life, yet we miss it on so many levels on a daily basis. We are to be kind, affectionate and out of love and honor (respect) preferring each other above ourselves. Sometimes edifying can be tough, but it is still done out of love and respect… or it shouldn’t be done at all.
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
Sometimes there are things that we are “allowed” to do, that aren’t “wrong”… but sometimes those things are not expedient (practical) or edifying. Sometimes we ought not do a thing simply because it hurts or pulls down someone else. Sometimes we need to think about how our actions affect our brother or sister in Christ… or the whole church. Sometimes we can be “right” in doing something, but still do damage to others or even to the name of Christ.
If it doesn’t edify or if it pulls someone down, we shouldn’t do it. I have a tendency to be sarcastic and sometimes I go a little overboard with it in ways that can be taken more mean than they are funny. I certainly don’t intend to be mean, but some could take it that way and as such I work hard not to joke that way. This is an example of how something can be “lawful”, but not expedient, not edifying.
Iron sharpens iron
Proverbs 27: 17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
If we are properly edifying one another, we should be making each other better. Growing each other closer to the Lord, encouraging one another in love, sharing truth and peace. As iron sharpens iron, so should brothers and sisters sharpen each other. I have been corrected by brothers and sisters in Christ and grown stronger. I have been encouraged and grown stronger. I have been taught and grown stronger. I have been edified in so many ways by others… I have been sharpened by time and fellowship with the body of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
There really is precious little so wonderful as the gathering together of the saints.
So why has the church forgotten to edify?
How come so many leave a church gathering without having grown? How come so many walk away from a gathering no closer to God than before? How come so many walk away from a gathering feel pulled down, hurt or condemned? Again, I think we’ve forgotten one of the core reasons Christians are to come together.
We ought to be edifying one another, provoking each other to love and good works… pushing each other towards love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.
We’ve forgotten that we should always be provoking one another to LOVE and GOOD WORKS, always exhorting (encouraging) each other. So let’s make a difference! Let’s strive forward and edify one another when we gather in fellowship.