Build Up One Another (Part 1)
By sis Shanice Soh
To fight the Covid-19 virus, the government has been encouraging us to be fully vaccinated and to take a booster jab, the objective of which is to ensure that in the event we contract the highly contagious virus, our condition will not be too serious or fatal.
In the same vein, in our Christian journey, we need a lot of booster jabs that can build us up spiritually, cheer us on, and bring us back on track so that we will not fall out of this race or go down the broad way that leads to the destruction of our souls (Matt 7:13).
We often hear the saying, 'Life is not a bed of roses.’ This concurs with what the Bible says in Job 14:1, “Man who is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Everyone has their own set of problems. And Christians are not exempted. In fact, by striving to live a godly life, Christians are certain to face persecutions (2 Tim 3:12).
Christians can certainly pray to God or turn to the scriptures for encouragement and pick themselves up when they fall. However, there may be times when Christians are too absorbed in their sorrows, pains, struggles, or challenges to remember God or put their trust in Him. There may also be times when Christians sin and are so guilt-stricken that they fail to go to God in prayer or read the bible for encouragement or guidance. In these and perhaps other scenarios, it is important for a member of the spiritual family to step in to give that much-required support when one is not in a good place. The Bible explains why two are better than one in the book of Ecclesiastics chapter 4:9-12. Verse 10 specifically shows how one can assist another in times of need, “For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”
God, in His divine wisdom, has instituted the church (Eph 3:10-11), giving us a spiritual family whereby we are to work together for His glory and to edify one another (Eph 4:11-12). According to the Thayer lexicon, the word ‘edify’ in this verse, among other meanings, is defined as ‘building up’ and ‘the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness’. Building up one another simply means we are to help one another to grow spiritually, and the all-sufficient Bible (2 Tim 3:16,17) is our guide to execute our duty in accordance with God’s will.
In Rom 14, there was a contention about eating meat. The weak Christians restricted their diet to just vegetables, but those who have knowledge recognized that meat could be eaten. This led apostle Paul to conclude in verse 19, “Let us, therefore, follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” With this verse, apostle Paul encouraged the church at Rome to earnestly pursue peace, which is to live in harmony or in agreement, and also to seek after other things by which they could use to build up or promote one another’s growth in their Christian lives.
In the following chapter, apostle Paul continued to encourage the Christians to bear the weaknesses of the weaker in knowledge and to accommodate others to edify them spiritually (Romans 15:1-2) These two verses corroborate the necessity of peace for edification. A harmonious relationship enables us to forge a stronger bond that makes it easy for us to reach out to our brethren when they are going through a rough patch. On the other hand, it is an uphill task to attempt to build up our brethren if we have no rapport with them or if our relationships with them are somewhat strained or bitter.
Peace is a precursor to unity within the church (Eph 4:3) and a united church helps to draw unbelievers to Christ as mentioned in John 17:21, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
Comfort Others with God’s Word
In chapter 4 of 1 Thessalonians, the church at Thessalonica were troubled that some of their loved ones had died, and Christ had not returned. In response to their worries, apostle Paul wrote to tell them that when Christ returns, the dead would rise and those who are alive would be caught up with them in the cloud. And he ended with 1Th 4:18, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” After the apostle Paul had urged the Thessalonians to prepare themselves for the sudden and unexpected 2nd coming of Christ, he instructed them again in 1 Thes 5:11, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”
As brethren, we are to continue to comfort one another with God’s word. By so doing, we are building up one another in the faith. According to the Thayer lexicon, the word ‘comfort’ has a string of meanings: encourage, exhort, admonish, entreat, strengthen, instruct and teach.
To help establish one another in the truths, we are commanded to teach others to do all of God’s will (Matt 28:20). It is also our duty to admonish those who transgress God’s law as well as those who teach or subscribe to false doctrine. In so doing, we help to save a soul. James 5:19 -20 “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
In 1 Corinthians 4:16 and 11:1, apostle Paul urged the Christians to imitate him as he emulated Christ. Indeed, we can take the cues from the apostles in our efforts to encourage others in their times of adversity. To persuade the Christians at Corinth to rejoice at all times, apostle Paul beseeched them not to worry about things in life but to bring their petitions to God in prayers. In strengthening the twelve tribes who were scattered abroad at the time of writing, apostle James exhorted them to be joyful and patient when tempted in the book of James, chapter 1.