There is a story that comes from ancient Greece about the King of Sparta boasting to a visiting monarch about the mighty walls of Sparta.
The guest looked around, but he saw no walls. So, he politely asked to see the walls that his host was so proud of.
The Spartan ruler pointed with great satisfaction to some disciplined and well-trained troops that composed the mighty Spartan army. “There,” he said. “There they are! Those are the walls of Sparta!”
The King’s point was well made. Each individual’s discipline, devotion, dedication to Sparta was a brick in that invisible, but mighty wall.
The word of the week is edify.
The literal meaning of the Greek word “edify”, writes W. E. Vine, “usually signifies to build, whether literally or figuratively.”
Christians are collectively characterized as “the house of God’, “the building of God,” and the “Temple of God.” Peter says we like “living stones, are being built up a spiritual house” (1Pet.2:5). Jesus Christ is the foundation. But He is building up the church one stone at a time. And we are workers together with God in the building process.
The Bible teaches that the role of preachers, pastors and teachers is to equip Christians to do ministry “for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). When that occurs Paul says it results in the “effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16
In his Ephesian commentary Colly Caldwell writes, “Building up is enlarging, strengthening and growing through patient effort. It refers to numerical additions that the salvation of souls being saved, and it refers to the establishment of strength through teaching those already Christians. Both areas of growth have to do with the spiritual progress of the body.”
Edification was both the cause and the effect of the spiritual growth and success of the first century churches. Luke writes, “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied” (Acts 9:31)
Edification is a positive, spiritual upward cycle. Teaching the word edifies. Worship edifies. Ministry edifies. Evangelism edifies. Godly association edifies. Righteous influence edifies. When those qualities are prevalent among a community of Christians the result can only be more edification!
Edification is an attitude. A decision. A way of thinking. The focus on the edifier is to personally grow in faith. Hope. Love. To strengthen others. And to promote the spiritual growth of God’s holy House. Obviously, one stone does not a building make! Each one needs each other. As we build each other up, we acknowledge the importance of one another.
William Schultz relates the heart warming story of little Laurie. She was about three years old when one night she requested my aid in getting undressed. I was downstairs and she was upstairs, and … well. “You know how to undress yourself,” I reminded her. “Yes,” she replied, ‘but sometimes people need people anyway, even if they do know how to do things by themselves.”
Ahh, so true Laurie. People need people. People need support. Encouragement. And edification.
This week look for opportunities to edify others. In your home. Your community. Your church-Family. When you do, your actions will be like a spiritual boomerang to come back and edify you!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman