In our Wednesday evening Word Search Bible Study, we have been studying in the book of Thessalonians. This is a model church that applies to the church today. Because of their newfound faith in Christ, they were going through many different types of hardships-financial stress, persecution, job loss because of their faith in Christ.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 it says, “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” The word comfort is the Greek word parakaleo. It means to comfort, to encourage or to speak consoling words, especially in times of difficulty or bereavement. This word comfort was also used in a militaristic sense to describe a commanding officer exhorting his troops before going into battle, knowing that a serious conflict lies ahead of them. This word comfort is used 109 times in the New Testament.
The word edify is the Greek word oikodomeo, which is a compound word. The first part of the word, oikos, means house, and the second part, demeo, means construction and is in reference to the building of a house. Building a house takes much planning ahead and implementing of ideas and investments. But in this scripture, Paul the Holy Spirit are not talking about building a house. He is talking about building up people. We need to plan ahead each day with creative ideas on how we are going to edify and build up all those we come in contact with throughout out days. We should add to them, advance them, augment them and put great effort into making others’ lives richer, fuller and better. Accidental edification is appreciated when it occurs, but Paul was not asking for occasional, accidental, haphazard edification. He was admonishing them and requesting a well thought out plan that occurs with great deliberation. We should view this task of edifying people who are challenged in this life (this includes all of us) as a personal construction project. It should be intentional and very deliberate. This is truly what God’s original design for our lives consisted of until the fall from grace.
In Proverbs 16:18 it says, “Pride goes before destruction…” In our own pride, because we are not willing to yield to God’s will of comforting and edifying others, we can actually bring destruction instead of construction (edify) into our own lives as well as into the lives of others, including the ones that mean the most to us.
Paul encourages us in Philippians 2:2-5 “fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Paul admonishes us to let nothing be done through selfish ambition (strife) or conceit (pride). Selfish ambition and conceit only bring destruction and not construction in our lives or in the lives of others. The only way we are going to truly be able to look out for our own interests and the interests of others is to have the mind of Christ, which was God’s original divine design, and that is going to require our understanding of repentance. I am convinced that there is a lack of understanding in the church as well as society of this word repentance.
Repentance is a requirement by God on man’s part, repentance from sin. Repentance from sin is a turning from sin and a turning to God. Repentance is the Greek word metanoia, which means afterthought, change of mind. Meta means after or change; noia means mind, to perceive in the mind, to change one’s mind or purpose. It involves a change for the better.
In Matthew 4:17 Jesus said, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In other words, we are going to have to change our minds about this kingdom because it is not what you think it is. Our problem is in our pride.
Paranoia is chronic psychosis characterized by delusions of persecution, showing distrust, suspicion or exaggerated sense of one’s own importance (pride). This is where fear, anxiety, worry and insecurity come from. We pair up with thoughts that are not from God. This is not God’s original divine design. Repentance gets us back to the mind of God so we can perceive in our minds the way God sees. We begin to see ourselves and others the way God perceives and sees us, and with God’s help we can comfort and edify each other. As you grow in your walk with God, He will help you see the you that you haven’t met yet, and you will assist others in doing the same by speaking comfort, encouraging and consoling words over them, edifying them, constructing them and building them up into all God has created them to be. This is truly God’s wisdom and not man’s.
Isaiah 33:6 says wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of our times and the strength of our salvation. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10) In Acts 3:19 it says, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Psalm 16:11 says God will show you the path of life, and in His presence is the fullness of joy. Let’s get familiar with this word repentance. It has been given to us for our well-being and to keep us on the right path, the path of life-eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) Be comforted and edified. God has a plan.
The writer is the senior pastor at Russell Road Church, Sidney.