Author: Joshua N.
Editor: Leon S.

This devotional was given at the RAYO #4: 5-7-5 Showdown fellowship event on 4/11/20. Check out our calendar for more upcoming events!

Words Are Powerful

When we think of our words, we often think of them as harmless or unable to inflict significant damage to others. As the old saying goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But is that actually true? If you think back to all the painful events of your life, you will likely remember the exact words that caused deep wounds in your heart. James 3:5-6 says that “the tongue is a fire” and can “set on fire the course of our life.” Knowing these powerful and wise words from James, we want to guard our speech to ensure that our words are always used in an edifying manner.

The Scriptures tell us that the Christian life is a life of constant warfare.  In Ephesians 6:12, the Apostle Paul warns us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.” This war is not a battle against a foreign military force with trenches and fortresses, but one that is fought spiritually. 

Colossians 2:8 provides greater detail on our tools of spiritual warfare: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Battling against false teaching does not mean putting it in a chokehold, nor does it mean taking a sword to behead empty philosophies. We are called to fight falsehood with our  words – namely, the word of God! Our trusted weapon is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). We are to defeat empty philosophies and destroy empty deception with sound biblical doctrine.

Words That Edify

We see from the previous section that words are indeed powerful, they can set whole lives ablaze and cause the armies of darkness to cower in fear. However, words are not simply weapons used to destroy, but words are also tools used to build.

The word, “edification,” means to build up. When constructing a building, there are many important, complex steps to consider: vision, budget, blueprints, foundation, etc.  Buildings should not be constructed without knowing what the building should look like before the shovel breaks ground. 

The same can be said when we edify a brother or sister in Christ. Edification is not merely giving encouragement to others (although that is important), but knowing where the Lord wants others to be in the future. In other words, God’s goal for others becomes your goal for them. This vision drives us to create a blueprint for others’ lives. From there, we start correcting the sin in other people’s lives, encourage them to live transformed lives, and disciple them in their sanctification. 

A good example of this process comes from Paul to Timothy: “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18). In this context, Timothy was a timid man and wavering in the work that God had entrusted to him. Wanting to edify Timothy, Paul writes to encourage him to keep fighting the good fight. In his letter to Timothy, Paul intentionally brings God’s plan for Timothy’s life into focus: “in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you…” This statement immediately reminds Timothy of his personal call to ministry. Paul is reminding Timothy of his ultimate goal that God had revealed and commanded Timothy to complete. It is also noteworthy that although Paul encouraged, taught, and directed Timothy,  it was purposeful. Paul could clearly see, through the revelation of God, the finish line of Timothy’s ministry and urged him to keep running closer to that future Timothy – the Timothy who would accomplish much for the kingdom of God.

This example of Paul and Timothy is how we are to model our edification of our brothers and sisters in Christ! When we edify others, we need to aim to be intentional with people. When speaking to others, ask yourself: “Are they heading towards God’s will for their life?” Next, we need to push them, even if it is just a little nudge, in the direction of God’s will. Ideally, they should come away from the conversation more Christ-like and fueled-up to run the race with greater fervor. 

What if we have no idea where God wants them to be? How do we push them in the right direction? The answer is, again, be intentional! Dig a little deeper to help them understand God’s plan for their life. Some probing questions to ask may be: 

  • What are their goals in life?,  (i.e. Are they godly?) 
  • What do they like to do? (It may show you where they can be fruitful.) 
  • How has the Lord gifted them? (This is the most direct way to know the direction of their life.) 

These are just a few questions to start helping others to see God’s will for them. Also, start trying to see their lives through the Word of God. It will paint a picture of where the Lord wants them to be. 

So whether we are at home, planning calls, checking up on people,  aim to be intentional in your interactions with others. Seek to build people to become the dynamic Christian that God wants them to be.

As we progress in our sanctification and edify others, we should not forget that our battle here is not physical, but that of a spiritual nature.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

Discussion Questions

  1. Think about the people you are close with (small group, roommates, family, ministry teams). What are some godly goals that they have for their life? What are some verses you can use to encourage them to run harder towards that goal?
  2. Do you think your words are edifying? How can you know whether your words are building up, tearing down, or causing no effect?
Words That Edify
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