I closed my computer the other day and sat for a moment, simply staring at the screen. What was going on? The hurt, anger, frustration, accusations… all of it was overwhelming. And depressing. Some of what I read had been blatantly mean, but much of it had been finger-pointing disguised at “motivation.” Even comments that appeared to be non-threatening, had an undercurrent of casting blame. And I have to say, even though I knew that none, not a single one of those comments were directed at me, I still felt the sting of each of them. I felt the condemnation and confusion. I looked at what was written and ached for my friends who were clearly struggling to find a balance between the hurt they feel and the brokenness of the world around them. I knew that they felt alone, but I also knew it didn’t need to be that way.
Friends, let us build up one another.
Fear Tears Down
Underneath so much of what I see being said right now is an overwhelming spirit of fear. Fear for the future, for our country, for our rights. Fear of what is or is not or what may be. Just so much fear. From the world, I understand. But for those who are children of God, fear holds no dominion over us. We are not bound to it, we are not slaves to it, and in everything, we have been set free from the power that fear holds! Friends, when Christ died on the cross and defeated sin and death, he defeated any power over us that fear once had. Now, as children of God we truly do have the power to choose not to fear, we can choose to trust. That’s important because fear tears down.
Fear is an invasive vine that creeps along the ground searching for crevices to root into. Fear wraps itself around us, strangling out our hope and doing actual damage to out hearts. It questions God’s goodness, it sprouts unbelief and leaves us broken and vulnerable.
But it doesn’t just hurt us. Fear damages those around us because in fear we do and say things that should not be. In fear, we speak words that tear others down. We prop ourselves with an arrogance that sees everyone who questions us, or disagrees with us, as wrong, or mistaken, or uninformed. Fear prompts us to prove our point in any way possible, as loudly as we can, without thought to who we are hurting in the process. Fear condemns, criticizes, and breaks relationships with everyone around us. Fear tears down.
But dear friends, we are not slaves to fear. When Christ died on the cross he defeated sin and death and set us free from the bounds that fear seeks to tie. When he told us to take heart because he had overcome the world, it was not just a pithy saying or a pat on the back. He really did overcome the world! We really do have nothing to fear because he is in control, and he has dominion over the earth. We can choose to trust him and to rest in the knowledge that all things are in his hands. Fear may have torn us down, but God is a god who restores.
God heals the broken hearted, even our own. Where fear has taken root, he brings joy and rest. When we come to him he hears our prayers and soothes our hearts. But he does not stop there, you see God doesn’t just want to heal our hearts, he invites us to join him in the work of healing others. The Lord has called us to be a people who restore and bring hope to the world. Friends, let us build each other up.
1 Thessalonians 5: 10-11 says, “Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
The love of Christ, the fact that he died for us and we are now united with him, moves us to encourage others. We are not bound by fear, we can trust God, and we can join him by building others up. What an awesome thing it is to be able to join God in the work that he is doing! But what does it mean to build others up?
Let us Build Each Other Up
Building each other up is the act of working to place someone above yourself. It is making a conscious effort to show them the love of Christ. Specifically building each other up means encouraging others with our words. It means listening with a heart to understand, being empathetic and offering words of kindness. It means exhorting people towards the truth and pointing them to the cross in a way that is not burdensome, but gentle. It means speaking the truth in love; being kind. It even means serving them and doing what you can to help physically meet their needs. Bring them a meal, take them to coffee, whatever it is you can do to live out Christ’s love.
We have such an amazing opportunity to love on people, even people we disagree with, even people who are ruled by fear. We don’t have to correct or condemn, we can simply be with them. We can acknowledge their fear, which is real, and then love them where they are at. That is the beauty of the love of God; it transcends opinion and flows out to everyone. To the world we have the privilege of being ambassadors of hope, to our sisters in Christ, we are ministers of grace.
But each of those requires that we ourselves are no longer bound by fear. Draw near to Christ, give your fears to him, rest in his mercy and his plan, and then let his love overflow to the world around you. Instead of criticism or condemnation, we can show grace. Where there was fear we can bring hope. Let us build each other up.
Let us build each other up.