“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing” — 1 Thessalonians 5:11, NASB
The theme for Theology Thursday’s summer series has been “How Christians Should Treat Others” and Paul directly addresses this idea in 1 Thessalonians 5:11. This week’s focus is specifically on the phrase “build up one another” from the passage. What does it mean to build up one another? Why is this an important practice? How can one practically engage in building others up?
What Are Christians Called To?
If we are going to successfully build up others in a way that pleases God, it is important that we know what this means. What is being asked of us as Christians? The term “build up” comes from the Greek term oikodomeite, which means “to build, construct, erect.”
Christians are called to encourage one another with other Christians in the faith, as we are all part of the Christian church. It is often easier and/or more tempting to tear others down for various reasons. Maybe someone is unlikeable, rude or they have offended you in some way.
However, we are not called to insult or tear down others, but rather to build them up. Paul further addresses this idea by stating, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29, NASB). The term “edification” is a noun from the same Greek root word referring to “a building up.”
This idea of “building up” in both passages refers to spiritual advancement or profit. Are you intentionally investing in the lives of others in a way that draws them closer to Christ? This is the question we should all ask ourselves. If our words and actions are not encouraging one another in their individual walks with Jesus, then we need prayerful evaluation, Holy Spirit correction and guidance.
Why Is Encouragement Important?
Why on earth would we worry about building others up? Especially since we live in a society that encourages us to focus on our own lives, minding our own business. The most important reasons to build others up is because God expects it of us, as evidenced in Scripture, and it pleases the heart of God. To encourage one another, we were not created for individualistic living, but rather, we were created for relational living. An example would be our walk with Jesus. Christ established his Church so we could commune with others, as we, first and foremost, commune with him.
How Do We Invest in Others?
The why smoothly transitions to the how. If we are going to build one another up, we need to be actively involved in a church, a local body of believers. This means we are more connected than only attending services on a Sunday morning. Rather, we are faithfully involved, participating and serving.
How can we build others up if we have no true Christian relationships? We should be discipling others, as well as being discipled. Christian fellowship is an opportunity to encourage, strengthen, support and correct others as needed, helping them to look more like Christ as they do the same for us.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.