I first started blogging in 2011 and I had a blog with blogger.com. Some of the posts have been re-hashed and added to this one but I thought I’d share some of my old posts with you in their original form so you can see how my thoughts and writing has changed over time. Enjoy! Feedback welcome!
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
Have you ever had a friend or known a person who just goes on and on and on about how great they are at something? In every conversation they will find a way to talk about how they’re better at something than everyone else who’s every tried it. At first you humour them and maybe give them a pat on the back. Over time the pat on the back gets harder and harder in the hopes of knocking them off their high horse and into the mud to learn some humility! You find yourself picking out their flaws and showing them. “You’re good at that but you suck at this!” You take every available opportunity to take them down a peg. You might even justify it by labelling it Tough Love and telling yourself it’s for their own good. I’d like to challenge that way of thinking a bit.
Steve Thompson, an American Christian teacher talks about Jesus’ disciples and the way they always seemed to be arguing about which of them was the greatest. (Matt 18:1; Mark 9:33-34; Luke 9:46; Luke 22:24) He points out that Jesus doesn’t rebuke his disciples as they bare their pride and arrogance but instead tells them how to become great! He doesn’t tear them down and start pointing out their flaws to humble them but instead gives them the keys to true greatness! On the night of Jesus’ arrest they all got a rude awakening as to how great they really were. I think in this area we may have gotten our job descriptions mixed up with God.
We as believers, brothers and sisters are the ones who are called to build one another up, with our words and our actions. This can be easier said than done when we believe that someone thinks far too highly of themselves. In Matthew 7:1-6 Jesus guides us to think of our own sin as a plank in our eye and our brother’s sin as a speck and so the first place we turn should be ourselves! It’s easy to think “Aha! I’ve spotted some sin there! Better jump on that dear brother and put my fingers in his eyes for his own sake!” How often do you get a positive response from cutting someone down? If someone really is getting ahead of themselves, chances are they don’t know it and they’re not going to appreciaite you raining on their parade. But imagine if instead we took time with the Lord to consider how we got this plank in our own eye, ask him how to remove it and then stay close to him to make sure it’s not going to get in there again. Wow! If our brother actually sees us doing that successfully, how much more willing will they be to listen and receive our God-given wisdom and love?
It’s not unlikely that we’d find once our plank is gone that their speck was never actually there but rather our vision was obscured by our whopping great plank! Sometimes insecurity causes us to not want others to celebrate their triumphs because we don’t get to. This makes room for the spirit of jealousy in our lives and as long as jealousy is present in our lives, no one close to us gets to grow because we’ll try to keep them at our level, we may cut them down with our words, we may withhold positions of honour or responsibility from them, we may take people’s opinion of them down with gossip…snip, snip, snip. STOP!!
Jesus tells us that pruning is the Father’s job (John 15:2). He’s the one with the shearers, not us. I think we find it easier to cut people down than build them up because we recognise that their character still needs work and that they need breaking down somehow in order to grow properly (it’s also just easier to find nasty things to say). I reckon this exposes in us either a lack of understanding or a lack of faith in God’s ability to prune. To prune you must allow something to grow and bear fruit and then cut it so that it bears better fruit. God lets us grow in our character for a while and sometimes all that growth isn’t positive but it’s necessary. After some time he cuts off the bad stuff so we can keep the good stuff and grow in it. For example God may want a young man to grow in his love and compassion for people. As this happens the young man’s love and compassion may grow a little too close to young ladies and so at that point the shearers come out for pruning. The young man retains his retains his new-found love and compassion but the dangerous aspect is removed.
The gift of prophecy is given to the Church to encourage us and build us up (1Cor 14:31) so the Body functions best when we encourage (not flatter) each other and spur one another on while trusting God to highlight the areas for improvement. Paul reminds us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to but rather in accordance with the level of faith we have (Rom 12:3). This doesn’t say don’t let others think more highly of themselves. Hmm here’s a thought: “Is it possible that someone we think is arrogant actually just has more faith in the work God has done in them than we do?”
Father help us to put down our shearers and pick up our tools for building and to go to work putting strength into each other’s hearts. Help us trust you to do your job of pruning us so that we can be fully committed to building one another up in love. Holy Spirit please teach us how to use the spiritual gifts you’ve given us to draw out the best in each other so that the worst gets pushed out. Give us your eyes to see each other as we truly are in Christ instead of simply seeing each others’ sin. We love you Lord.
Go find a brother or sister and tell them what you love about them!