Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. ~1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NLT)
There is a reason why I don’t like watching politics, news networks, or a lot of debates: their attitudes tend to be highly anti-Christian. By this, I don’t mean that what they say is always wrong or against Christian beliefs. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. I do mean that the attitudes tend to be hostile, belligerent, and tearing people down. Even in many who claim to be speaking from a Christian perspective.
The more we watch it, the more we mimic it, and the more we tend to act like it. We act like it is okay to tear other people down, especially those who disagree with us.
But that is not the way of Christ.
Christianity is supposed to be more about up-building than tearing down. We see this in Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonicans. Yes, sometimes, rebuke is necessary: warn those who are lazy; but more often what is needed is kindheartedness. Encourage. Take tender care. Be patient.
It is always easier to tear down than to build up. Just think how long it takes for a team of people to construct a massive skyscraper. Yet with a few well placed charges, such a building will crumble in just a matter of seconds. People are the same. Even the strongest can snap and crumble with a few well placed attacks of bitter criticism.
The aim of the Christian life, though, is not to reduce someone to a pile of rubble that has collapsed under guilt and shame. The aim is to help people behold the glories of Jesus such that, through the Holy Spirit, they will come to reflect such beauty and glory to others.
This takes time, it takes tenderness, and it takes a lot of encouragement. Yes, on occasion, a sharp corner needs to be chiseled away; but even that takes care to not make the ragged edge worse. Far more often we need reminded of the grace and love God has bestowed on us, and who God is shaping us to be as his holy and beloved children.
So let us work to build up. Let us strive to be people who are known more for encouragement, patience, and tender care; rather than people who are known for tearing down. Let us be in the business of building more than demolition.
This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.