As I watched them tear a building down
A gang of men in a busy town
With a ho-heave-ho, and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and the side wall fell
I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled,
And the men you’d hire if you wanted to build?”
He gave a laugh and said, “No, indeed,
Just common labor is all I need.”
“I can easily wreck in a day or two,
What builders have taken years to do.”
And I thought to myself, as I went my way
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by rule and square?
Am I shaping my work to a well-made plan
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?
“O Lord let my life and my labors be
That which will build for eternity!”
These words by an unknown author speak to the importance of our word of the week, edification.
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 commentary on Ephesians 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 heartwarming 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. Be a builder. Not a wrecker.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman