Ephesians 4:29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. AMPC
In other translations, Ephesians 4:29 says our words should “edify.” To edify means to “build up.”
- Do our words edify or build up a person’s development or do we side in with their dysfunction?
- Do our words build up our church, our country, and our leaders or do we side in with negativity and criticism?
- Do our words build up the people outside of our circles or do we side in with fault-finding and gossip?
Let’s build others up. If someone is a builder, I can put a tool in their hand, like a hammer, and they will build. If someone is a demo person, the same tool can be used to tear down. The tools God has given to us are our words, our attitudes, and our actions.
How can we use our tools to build up?
- Be positive with our conversations, even our private ones.
- Be productive with our actions, doing our part to serve one another and to give.
- Be pleasing to God with attitudes that honor His values.
Why? To restore, establish, increase, and strengthen.
- Otherwise, we are found negligent in God’s purpose, not doing our part.
- Or worse, are found rebellious, working against God’s plan and purpose.
How could our tools tear down?
Many times we aren’t even aware how powerful our words, attitudes or actions are. Our conversations can be destructive when we side in with the wrong things others are saying or feeling or doing. Perhaps we just want to make someone feel better about themselves where they are at, when what they really need is to be challenged. Maybe we don’t like confrontation, so instead of correcting someone, we stay complacent and don’t use our tools at all.
Other times people are aware of their influence, and they intentionally sabotage a person, a marriage, a family, a church, a community or a country. Their words could be clever, their attitudes could be cunning, and their actions could be conflicting. These people can be shady, using a slight word to cast doubt on a person or a group of persons.
In our area, we have noticed and had conversations with other pastors about the number of church splits in our region. There have been many Christians who have tried to sway people away from their pastor or their home church, some inviting their friends to change churches or even start their own church using the resources and connections that their own pastor gave them. They often try to justify their divisive behavior by finding fault in their pastor or church, leaving out of conflict.
Jerry and I once left a church to pursue missions. Several families in the church told us that if we started a church in the same area, they would come with us. They would serve, they would tithe, and they would support us. They pointed out the faults in their new pastor and told us how wonderful we were. Such an option was filled with deception and dishonor. Jerry and I compared our situation to that of David’s opportunity to take from King Saul, an imperfect man. David refused to touch God’s anointed. We quickly denounced the idea.
Consider what Paul said in Romans 15:20 “And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation.” The other man’s foundation was not their church building; that foundation was that pastor’s congregation. You see, a pastor is a shepherd, and the sheep represent those entrusted to the care of that shepherd. For another shepherd to begin their own sheepfold by leading other sheep to leave their shepherd is a thief, a wolf. It is wrong and dishonorable to start a church or grow a church by taking away people or resources from another pastor.
When Jerry and I started Freedom House, we started with people who came to us who did not have a home church, had left their home church, or a church leader from another church sent them to us. As a new church, needed help. When a staff member reached out to a group of their friends to help us, they wanted to then leave their church and make Freedom House their home. Jerry and I contacted the other church. Their leaders knew the group was young and immature, but loved them and counted them as their own. We sent the group back to their home church and helped reestablish them. As a result, we have good standing with this pastor and our community, and even more valuable, we have good standing with God.
The character of a man or woman or group who would take people and resources away from the pastor, without that pastor’s blessing, is someone with poor integrity. Many churches that start on the foundation of another leader will eventually fall. I have seen it time and time again. God cannot bless dishonor. However, I have heard of a church repent of its faulty start, and God has shown mercy and given longevity. I have also seen churches where God removed the rebellious church starter or influencer, bring in someone new with honorable character, and restore and flourish a group of believers. God has tremendous mercy and the ability to undo and repair our mistakes, whether they were intentional or not.
So let’s examine our conversations, our attitudes, and our actions – are they in line with God’s vision and values for that person or that community? Are they honoring God, honoring authority, honoring family and marriage? If so, let’s continue. If not, it’s a matter of our heart, so let’s start with a fresh surrender, then realign our words, our attitudes, and our actions with what God wants. Let’s choose to be that person who can stand before our Father as someone who loves Him and helps Him to build up rather than someone who had their own agenda and tear others down in order to get it.