Building up one another is the demonstration of the love of Christ among believers.
John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Jesus had just given the twelve disciples a demonstration of servanthood love. He had just performed a humbling task of washing the feet of the disciples, even Judas, who was betraying him at that moment. The continuing expression of servanthood love among the disciples would be the mark of their submission to him as Lord and Savior. It would be the basis of their credibility as his disciples. The world apart from Christ would then learn the reality of their salvation by whether they would truly love one anothers.
Something to consider: suppose I were there beside the side of Jesus, and at some point after he had started to wash the feet of the disciples, he had stopped and told me to take over. What would be my reaction? How am I actually reacting to the servanthood opportunities which are already being placed in front of me by Jesus?
Galatians 5:13-14, 6:2: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge your flesh; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ . . . Carry each others’ burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Since Christlike love for our fellow believers is the will of God, the very credibility of one’s salvation from Jesus Christ is at stake in whether one is building up fellow believers in servanthood love. What then can be done to make our love for each other more visible? Even more — doesn’t this require more than attendance at church services, and an occasional greeting to someone else?
Building up one another is necessary because of our spiritual unity with each other as fellow believers.
I Corinthians 12:26: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
Because of the spiritual unity of believers, the suffering or success of other believers affects our own suffering or success. At the very least we miss the possible contributions of the sufferers, and we miss the possible fruitful ministry to their lives when their needs are ignored.
Building up one another provides the atmosphere for growth in the body of Christ among believers.
The atmosphere where growth in the body of Christ takes place is that of ‘speaking the truth in love,’ where each member’s ministry based upon his or her spiritual gift plays a part. The ‘work’ of each part is the divinely willed and empowered gift through the Holy Spirit for the building up of each member. Each member has a place; each member is necessary for the growth of the whole. Apart from this ministry, truthful and loving edification through the spiritual gifts of each member, churches tend to be cliquish, closed and unaccepting, and believers stifled, stunted in their growth, and superficial in their post conversion experience of the working of God in their lives.
Do you know what your spiritual gift is? Have you studied Romans 12:3-9, I Corinthians 12 and 14, and I Peter 4:10-11, and asked God to show you where your place is?
Building up one another happens with prayer for other believers.
Ephesians 6:18: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
The ministry of fellow believers to each others in prayer, both in their private times and public gatherings, is the foundation for making the ministry of building each other up spiritually and eternally effective. Before even approaching someone else with correction and encouragement, pray for the person and for wisdom for yourself. Also find someone else who is trustworthy with whom you can share your own heart and pray for each other’s needs: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can be healed” (James 5:16). Be sure to pray in faith, expecting God to answer, and to keep matters confidential. A prayer ministry must not degenerate into a gossip hotline!
Consider then: what people come to mind when I think of those for whom I can pray? What people are there with whom I can pray confidentially for my needs, and even confess my sins?
Building up one another with believers who listen to and understand fellow believers.
Listening to fellow believers must come before any speaking to them. This is to avoid needless and destructive criticism, insensitive and inept advice due to false impressions and mistaken information, and subtle insinuations against anyone else’s reputation through gossip: “He who answers before listening — that is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). Be careful to get to know the person for whom you are concerned through firsthand knowledge; don’t assume that a secondhand account of a situation shows genuine understanding of someone else’s situation. Love will abound in “knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9) not only from learning the Word and being with the Lord, but from taking the time to get to know fellow believers and their situations.
What reasons can you think of why you personally make not take the time to listen and understand other people? What can you do to correct these tendencies?
Building up one another happens when believers lovingly correct each other.
Matthew 18:15-17: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him even as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
To avoid the destructive practice of gossip, scripture gives these guidelines:
- Correction should be personal — not through uninvolved third parties — avoiding triangulation.
- Correction should be confidential — only with those actually involved.
- Correction aims at restoration: the repudiation of any genuine sin, and renewed and deepened fellowship among believers.
- Correction needs to be done with gentleness, sensitivity and a willingness to listen (James 1:19-21), and not self righteous judgmentalism.
- Correction needs to be based on scripture (II Timothy 3:16-4:2) and not personal pique.
See also Proverbs 10:12 and 26:17. How do these scriptures suggest that we should deal with these matters if uninvolved parties seek to pry or others seek to enlist us as allies in their personal conflicts?
See also Romans 14:7-12, and Ephesians 4:1-3 and 4:23. What do these scriptures say that would guide us on how to deal with differences of opinion? Remember: among believers differences of opinion are not to degenerate to become a battle of wills.
Building up one another happens when believers comfort each other.
Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
I Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
What ways has God comforted you over the years?
What situations are there which call for us to comfort fellow believers?
What ways are there that we can show comfort in those situations, and pass on the comfort that we ourselves have received from God?
Building up one another happens when believers share scriptural counsel and encouragement.
Romans 15:4: “For everythnig that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”
II Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The Word of God is the proper source of counsel, encouragement and correction among believers. The goal of Scriptural counsel is to direct others away from sin and to follow the will of God in Jesus Christ. It must be used sensitively to the need of each person.
What can be done in your life and in the life of your church to provide better opportunities for personal counsel and encouragement?
Building up one another happens when believers share materially with those in need.
Romans 12:13: “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Hebrews 13:16: “And do not forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
I John 3:17: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
This is many times the greatest test of the reality of our love and commitment to each other as believers. This was one of the greatest signs of the spiritual vitality in the earch church (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37). Its absence will falsify the profession of love for each other.
What opportunities are there for this kind of giving in your life and in partnership with your church? What guidelines should be followed in giving?
Prepare yourself for the ministry of edification; be settled with the issue of the Lordship of Christ in your own life, receive his Word into your heart, continue in prayer, purify your motives, and live to love as Jesus loved.
All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers