EDIFICATION by Charie Horne 9-5-09
I felt a strong stirring to share this about a month ago, but as time went on, and life went on, and I didn’t feel a “burning desire” anymore, and I couldn’t get my thoughts to follow any sort of rational order, I began to question whether I was really supposed to do this. But as I prepared today, I found that I was really enjoying this task that I had procrastinated on for so long. I believe that God gave me that enjoyment as confirmation that I am, indeed, supposed to share this tonight.
Key Scripture: Ephesians 4:21-32 (The Message) But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work. Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
My 16 year old son Chris – when told that I’m speaking on edification tonight – started laughing: “Did Mr. Burwell assign this to you?” “Why?” “Because you’re so choleric* that you kind of forget to edify, Mom.” FYI – D&D did not ASSIGN me, but they did ENCOURAGE me!
*my choleric personality fleshly weaknesses (15/20): bossy, unsympathetic, resistant, frank, impatient, unaffectionate, headstrong, proud, argumentative, workaholic, tactless, domineering, intolerant, stubborn, short-tempered
What is EDIFICATION?
- To build, construct, establish
- To build up, establish, or strengthen a person; to uplift
- To inform or enlighten intellectually or spiritually
- Amplified Bible = ”be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor)”
- Starts with my motivation – flesh or Spirit? – and involves actions, words, tone of voice
EDIFICATION is impossible without God’s heart. I’ve tried for years to edify my family by my own strength. It is completely impossible for me. Even when I want to do something good, the opposite comes out. Paul wrote about his experience with his flesh in Romans 7:18-20 (The Message) But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
Thus, although I am responsible for myself to not be offendable, I am also responsible not to get in God’s way when He gives me a word for someone. I am not responsible for someone else’s offense, but I am responsible not to cause it with my own flesh.
EDIFICATION is unlikely to happen if I am speaking or behaving in such a way as to cause someone else to strike up against my words, tone, or actions. Dave Burwell’s article on “Taking Offense” listed the Biblical usage of offense as follows: having nothing to strike against, not causing to stumble; Of a smooth road; Metaphor: of not leading others to sin by one’s mode of life
EDIFICATION is impossible if I am judging the other person – again, my flesh is in control, and I may be right, but I’ll be “dead right”. Romans 7:5 (Amplified Bible) When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death.
EDIFICATION is hardest with those closest to me. In the natural, the closer I am to someone, the tougher it becomes to respond to the positives in them. I do see the positives, but still I respond to the negatives. From D&D: Changing habitual responses require the hardest work in the process of healing. I want my habitual response to be edification, not criticism. How do I do this?
- I must counter my flesh with God’s Spirit.
- Attitude of worship
- Prayer for me – for God’s heart for them
- Prayer for them – allows God to share with me His heart for them
- Intentionally (i.e. only as given release by God) speaking TRUTH
- Just because I see truth, does not give me permission to speak it. Then I am walking in my own will rather than God’s.
The HIGHEST standard is in Ephesians 4:29 (Amplified Bible) 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.
Shirley Strand stated that we are all prophets; that we all speak the word of God. God never prompts prophets or prophecies to speak anything that is not encouraging, exhorting, or pointing back to Him and His ways. 1 Cor. 14: 1-3 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
Some Excerpts from “Dime Store Prophecies” (Robert Ricciardelli, from DB 8/3):
- Edification does not apply only to what we think of as “prophecy” – really applies to everything that comes out of our mouths, to every interaction with another person (even non-verbal).
- As a Christian, I am theoretically ministering every time I open my mouth. If I am to reflect God, everything that comes out of my mouth ought to be the word of God.
- God never prompts prophets (i.e. ME) to speak anything that is not “encouraging, exhorting, or pointing back to Him and His ways.” What I am to speak may not always be a “winsome” word … but I am still responsible to deliver it in love, without my own emotions (i.e. flesh) attached. (See I Cor. 14: 1-3 above)
- We must understand the concept of not entrusting ourselves to anyone other than the Lord: realistically, however, we certainly entrust ourselves to our close loved ones, especially family. I know my kids entrust themselves to me. Therefore, I need to be extra careful with them.