Key Verse:
We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. – Romans 15:1-2 NKJV

The call to edify

We have been called to edify.  Edify: to instruct or improve (someone) morally or intellectually.  The word edify is synonymous with words like teach, tutor, educate, instruct, develop, or better.  We as Christians have been called to edify.  Last week we saw that we are to shine as lights in a crooked and perverse world (Philippians 2:15).  In other words, we are to become beacons of lights – a beacon that guides others; we know the Way and we should edify others in the Way – that is my focus in today’s sermon.

The call for edification is not something that is brand new to us.  In fact, we can look to the days when Israel first received the Law of God from Moses; they were not only supposed to live by the Law but edify others through the Law.  The one thing about edification is that you have to actually live in the way that you teach and preach.  Scripture says (Romans 2:21), “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?”  Israel could not edify others because they could not keep and live in the Law.

Jesus was then manifested in the world and Christ taught the principle of loving others as yourself (Matthew 22:39).  Jesus became the propitiation of sin, rose from the grave, and then He commissioned man to edify, once again.  Jesus commissioned man to spread the good news to all (Matthew 28:19), and the good news in and of itself is for edification!

I say all of this to once again let you know that the idea of edifying others is not something that is brand new.  Paul, when he spoke of edification, was not teaching his readers and us today, about something that was new; this was a message of old, a message from God – sound doctrine.  I said in a sermon a couple of weeks ago that we were not put in this world to live by ourselves.

The doctrine of edification, God’s doctrine, is all about growth – spiritual growth.  Mankind was not growing spiritually because man was following after and chasing after the wrong things.  However, God has always wanted for man to repent, turn back to Him, and then grow spiritually.  Edification, once again, is a doctrine of spiritual growth which includes both self and others.

The failed growth of today

For too long we have been under the influence of basic and simpleminded principles of the world.  The world has a principle built upon selfish gains.  The world says:  “only the strong survive”.  We see these basic set of principles all over nature with predator and prey, and we ourselves have even adapted these simplistic principles – we call it capitalism.  This sort of principle creates nothing but struggle to where the strong struggles against the strong, oppress the weak, and the weak have to struggle against both the strong and others considered to be weak.

This sort of principle works for the world, but this is the sort of principle does not work with the Lord.  As I have said in countless sermons, we continue to let the principles of the world influence us in our spiritual beliefs and all this does is corrupts our spirit.  Just take a look at how many spiritual leaders are stepping out and now sounding ridiculous trying to defend those who do not practice what they claim they believe.

The lack of spiritual edification in Christianity has really been on display as of late, especially in our politics.  I am not a preacher who wants to drag politics into a sermon, but there comes a time when you have to talk about what you see.  The way that political leaders who claim to be a Christian have treated those who are less fortunate, those who are poor, and, in recent months, the Dreamers is certainly not Christ-like nor is it right.  The way that people talk about other countries that they perceive to be lesser than their standards have also been reckless and not Christ-like.

Christian values show up in the actions that one takes.  We see that in our society there is still much room for growth, for edification.  Peter said (2 Peter 1:5-8), that we should diligently add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  What Peter is saying here is that it takes these things to grow spiritually, to edify ourselves.  We must then pass this on to others in edification!

We don’t see much of these qualities in our society today: virtue, knowledge, self-control, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  Why so?  I will tell you that it is certainly not because one man “brought it back out” of people – it’s always been there.  We do not see these qualities being exhibited by many of those who say that they are believers – that’s a big issue.  If we, the ones that say we believe, refuse to follow in these ways, the ways of the Lord, how can we expect for others to follow suit?  If we refuse to follow in these ways, the ways of the Lord, how can we turn around and edify others in these ways?  You see, that doesn’t make much sense, right?

The Church must lead

As I said in last week’s sermon, edification must first begin with us.  We cannot expect to edify others if we have not first edified ourselves!  So we, if we say we are genuine believers, must first edify ourselves, then we must stand in those ways.  The genuine believer must stand, and take charge now more than ever when it comes to spiritual edification.  Those who genuinely believe and know sound doctrine must spread the teachings of Christ.  This is what Paul means when he talks about being a shining light in a crooked and perverse world (Philippians 2:15).

Last week we saw that we must come to a place of peace with God’s will and way; this, again, is what spiritual growth is all about – peace.  Edification, spiritual growth, is all about finding peace.  Paul says (Romans 14:19), “Let us pursue the things which make for peace.”  This is a peace that is not only in the world but a peace that is spiritual as well.  This peace that we pursue is only found in Jesus Christ.

Edification is, therefore, a pursuit of peace in Jesus Christ.  When we look to edify others, remember, we are looking to teach, tutor, and instruct them in the ways of peace (Jesus Christ).  Do you understand this?  This edification (Christ/peace) is what we then must share with others.  We, the believer, should always be looking to increase in peace, not cause havoc!  We edify ourselves and we edify others so that we can live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).

To edify ourselves and others, as we learned last week, we must learn to bear with (be patient) those who are weak in faith (Romans 15:1).  “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification,” is what Paul says (Ephesians 4:29).  Just because we are strong in our faith, it does not mean we can go around belittling those who are not as strong in their faith.  We cannot become stumbling blocks in the paths of others, but unfortunately, that is the route many so-called believers take nowadays.

We cannot shine as lights in the world if we become like the world.  Let us grow spiritually and get to a place where we better understand what we should be sharing with others.  Christianity (Christ) is not about dictating your ways on to others.  Remember, the Lord never snapped a finger and demanded that we bow to Him!  The Lord simply made His case for why we should believe in Him.  That is an example of edification from the Most High, and an example of how we as believers should edify others.

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