A new home was being constructed in my neighborhood recently. The builder brought in heavy equipment to prepare the land. Next he poured the basement, and soon the home was framed. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the author, Paul, tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up…” The term he uses is the same for “building up” a home. It wasn’t until the builder in my neighborhood “built up” the walls that I could see how the homeowner had planned the space. It took time and steps to get the home to that point.
Much like a construction project isn’t dreamt of, designed, constructed, and certainly not paid for in one day, we believers are in process too! The book of 1 Thessalonians was written to a group of believers. Paul challenged these people to further growth in their faith by reminding them of how to treat others. It wasn’t just their personal growth, or even their relationship with the Lord that Paul focused on in these verses… it was their treatment of each other.
The eighth commandment—“You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15)—reminds us to give to others rather than take away. So what are some things we might be “taking away” from others? Confidence? Joy? Are the words we are using building up or tearing down? Are we even aware of how and what we say, and how those statements affect others? Are we careful with our comparisons and self-controlled to stop gossip?
We can obey God in this commandment by being a part of other believers’ building processes! What is one brick of “building up” that we can lay today? Let somebody know when you see them following God’s will and way. Share a kind word. Prepare a meal or help a friend with childcare. Find a way to encourage someone, rather than tear them down. Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica was written to believers to build them up and keep them faithful. Maybe a good, old-fashioned letter would do the same for a friend or family member in your life.