Edify with Care

Edify with Care

A very kind, older gentleman tried to give me a compliment this week. Unfortunately, he prefaced his praise with words that amounted to an insult. This was completely unintentional on his part, he just didn’t think about how his thoughts would sound before he said them. The end result was that I heard the insulting half of the statement and almost completely ignored the compliment.

I know this sweet man had only good intentions. However, this experience was a reminder of the power of my words upon others. I realized again the importance of thinking before I speak – even when giving a compliment.

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

There are many places in the Bible where we are encouraged to build up our fellow believers. This is important and can be easily neglected in the midst of a busy life. This doesn’t mean we must say only positive things to one another. On the contrary, we’re told to deliver even the hard truth when it is needed. However, we are to wrap that truth in love, a spirit of gentleness, and the desire to restore right relationships. In this way, whether handing out compliments or restoring a brother, we will be edifying the body of Christ.

but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. – Ephesians 4:15 – 16 (NKJV)

I can apply this to my life by asking God to show me opportunities to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ. When I get the chance to do this, I need to slow down and choose my words carefully, making sure the meaning I intend actually comes through. I also must remind myself not to shy away from the difficult conversations. I pray God will give me the courage to have them, but only after first asking God to cleanse me of ulterior motives and to fill my heart with love for this person. The final application is to give others plenty of grace for those times when their words don’t come out just right. God really taught me a lot of lessons out of one insulting compliment!