Thursday, September 18, 2014

Building Up

When my family was active in group counseling because of my son's drug use, there was a great rule: "Never speak about another unless they are in your presence." There were no stipulations. We were encouraged to not even compliment another person unless that person was present to hear it.

Stupid rule? No! The reasoning behind it is as follows: Love is not shown by denigrating others. "Well!", you say "I was going to brag on that person!" If we compliment another they should hear it! Furthermore, for those of you who know the "telephone demonstration" and oft repeated statement is slightly distorted until the original statement is unrecognizable. As an example, if we tell one person that "Suzanne" is beautiful especially her profile, it may end up that Linda is unattractive in the front view. A compliment can easily become an insult with repetition! Regardless, we are to encourage one another:
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV) "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
Those who "build-up" are more well-liked than those who "tear down". Think about yourself. Do you like the person better who is positive or another who is a negative talker? The answer should be obvious. Few people think highly of the gossiper and/ or back-biter:
 Proverbs 20:19 (ESV) "Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler."
A word from wisdom: If you talk bad about another person you yourself are a babbler! Don't be a babbler! Don't carry gossip! It may be slanderous. A righteous person works hard to build up a good reputation. One unfair or malicious word can destroy what has taken years to build. Speaking ill of others is wrong because what is said about another may be entirely false; and even if it's true, what is there to gain by destroying another person when they're down?
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

The rule is no "corrupt talk". Never change what's true to something unflattering or untruthful. At my age people are always reminding me how old I am. For those people: I have a birth certificate and a mirror. Pointing out my age is non-value added information and reminding me of that is not meant to build me up! Along with age foes teasing about senility. When an older person makes a mistake, it's contributed to age. When a young person makes a mistake, it's merely a learning experience! For all those who believe mistakes are because of age, guess what? We all have always made mistakes and with taunting from others, even more will be made! Why? Rather than be conscious of what we're doing we become conscious of ridicule and take our mind off "doing".

Moving on, our talk is to be good for "building up". We are to encourage others with our remarks. Hidden insults must never be included within encouragement. No one builds up by saying that "You look good for your age!" as an example. If we are truly encouraging it should be "You look good!" However, encouragement is not to give a person a false perception of themselves. Over-bragging leads to pride. That's why "building up" is tempered by the phrase "as fits the occasion". Paul bragged on his fellow workers for all they had done for the Lord. That's encouragement and fits the occasion. Esteem building compliments are dishonest. We are not all at the same level of performance and it's silly to play games that we are. However, we all have different skills and interests which are valuable!

For instance, I've always found mathematics and writing to be easy. Those are my forte. My former brother-in-law could barely read and wrote very poorly. However, John was a superb cabinet maker, craftsman and folk artist; all of which I'm poor! Rather than tearing him down by speaking of his ignorance where I'm good, I speak of him highly for being good at other things! That speech "fits the occasion" and is truthful.

Another person I know can read at a elementary level, but has made a fortune with his work ethic and investments! I point that out to "fit the occasion". I am speaking truth and he deserves recognition for his effort!

Of course our "building up" is not to build-up pride because we're all to be meek. We're to have an honest perception of "self". Building up others in their quest for the wisdom of God and spreading the "Good News" is always appropriate! My preacher does a great job at that; much better than what I do. He deserves to be encouraged. However, he's imperfect, but what good would come of me pointing out his imperfections. It would tear him down and demoralize his ministry. We're to encourage our preacher.

Because I was "down" the other day I considered a cessation in writing  My Daily Thought. About the time I was most demoralized I received a message from a stranger who encouraged me to keep writing. He must have sensed my dilemma! God does that you know. With his encouragement, I continue to write. Rather than look at I only reach about 50-150 people each day, I can look at it realistically. On a weekly basis I estimate my "internet congregation" to be in excess of 200. That's better than most "real preachers"! That's encouraging and this stranger encouraged me! What if he'd said Why waste your time with about 100 readers a day?" That would have discouraged me and led me to quit.  He "built me up", not "tore me down".
1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV) "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

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