“Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Romans 15:2)
I remember the moment the mind shift was taking place in me. I was in my twenties; Greg and I were newlywed. Honestly, I was angry at God! Well, I was angry at Greg and letting God have it. Poor guy! We were in another of those early marriage spats. You know, the moment when you are yelling because they squeezed the toothpaste roll the wrong way. I quickly learned. Greg gets his own tube. I want to squeeze the way I squeeze my toothpaste! But the fight had nothing to do with the toothpaste, but with an unmet expectation that had not been clearly communicated. I cannot even remember what we were fighting about, but we were fighting again! UGH! I was reading my Bible and letting God have it because Greg wasn’t getting his stuff together! I was the master at telling God what Greg needed to grow up in. Sometimes, we can be masters at pointing out other’s faults. O God, forgive us!
BUT GOD, kindly and graciously reminded me in my daily Bible reading that it was not about Greg. It is never about Greg. It is ALWAYS about me when it is a matter that I am talking to Him about in prayer. God wanted me to stop talking about what Greg was doing wrong and to start thinking about what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do to live right. UGH! SERIOUSLY! I thought to myself, “Can I not even whine in my prayers to You?” And again, God kindly reminded me that I could whine and tell Him all about my woes and worries, but that is where it must stop and then I must listen and obey. Why? Because God wants me to live my life so that I lead in edification!
I am a bride. Can I lead? You betcha! I LEAD! It is as much my responsibility to lead as it is Greg’s and God was not going to let me off the hook! This morning I caught myself asking, what does it mean to lead with edification? God took me back to that memory of when He started teaching me this principle. If you would have asked me then if God was teaching me to live out a life that builds up, I would not have been able to see it. At the time, it felt more like God was tearing me down. But God grew me up in it despite me.
The Greek word for edify is oikodome’. It means to build a house. Literally, visualize a house that is being built stone by stone.
I once read that stone arches were used because of how they were so sturdy. Each stone was piled up on the other in such a way that the pressure caused them to provide support and stability that made them strong. The stones edified one another! It was in the stones leaning into each other that they were able to provide a beautiful archway that supported the infrastructure, and, in many cases, it weathered the elements and lasted years beyond the use of the entire building.
Greg and I had to learn to lean into each other as we faced pressure. We had to learn how to speak to one another in such a way that it built up (edified) rather than tore down. I needed to ask myself, “Do my words build my Greg up or do they tear him down?” He needed to ask it, too, but I am only allowed to talk and deal with my own sin. And y’all, I had much to learn and still do.
Beyond marriage, I am grieved by so much that happens around me. I hurt when I see two people not able to talk about COVID vaccines without ripping apart the other person. It is as if we have forgotten how to build up. We are no longer leaning in and helping each other to be stronger. Greg read this verse to me this morning and it is a great reminder because it applies to how we react and interact with each other. “Be careful that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9). We don’t want to be the stumbling block. And it seems that this issue is becoming a massive stumbling block. How can we lean into each other and help support each other in our decisions?
It grieves my heart when I hear people getting nasty over politics. History reminds us that politics and division will always be there, but it is the one that loves that can change the course of history. We need to live by ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).
Do I lead to edify in these situations? Sometimes, I have to stop myself midsentence and choose to do a redirect! Not because I am avoiding or running away, but because I love the person more than I love my opinion. I need to lean into them to make us both stronger and this provides stability. What can I learn from them? How can we use this pressure to help us get stronger and make us more stable as we support each other? How can I be a servant in the moment and make it less about me and more about understanding them?
Jesus commanded us, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…” (Matthew 20:25).
If I am leading to edification then I am thinking about the other person’s heart, their mind, their soul, and yes even their spirit! I have to ask myself, “Am I a giving instruction that is helpful, useful, kind? Am I saying it in a way that builds up? Can I see that the way I am communicating is designed to improve, instruct, encourage, and bless?
How does leading to edification challenge you today? Are you willing to pause and ask God how you might need to shift in tone, word, deed so that you lead to edify?
Today, I will be asking myself, how am I leading to edification?