One of the few reality TV shows I actually enjoy watching is ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Now in its ninth season, the show is built around the idea of building or remodeling a home for deserving people. Projects that would normally span several months are completed in seven days by bringing together a team of designers, contractors, hundreds of workers and local volunteers! The lucky homeowners always have a heart-warming story: heroes, community leaders, and a plethora of inspirational families are truly the heart and soul of the show. My wife Becky usually has a box of tissue handy when Ty yells out that familiar line, “Move that bus!”
The reason this program is so popular is, at least in part, because we believe everyone deserves a place to call his or her own – a home, a place where family dreams are made, and futures are built. Having a house or a home is more than just a luxury in our culture. It’s a place for security, protection and building life-long relationships.
Building someone a house, especially if that someone is a very deserving individual, is something that attracts attention. Habitat for Humanity is one of the most respected non-profit organizations today. They have built homes from literally thousands of people and inspired volunteers worldwide.
House building, an important metaphor in the writings of the Apostle Paul, describes what believers are supposed to do for each other. The word is translated “build up” or “edify” and is used at least six times in the letter to the Ephesians.
It was a common term used to describe the actual building of a house. Paul used it to talk about what we should do for each other. To “build up” a brother or sister in the faith means to use words and actions that encourage, uplift and strengthen them. Literally, we are to “build a house” for them with our love and kindness.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:16 KJV)
Just as a carpenter plans well for the construction of a home by selecting the right materials, we must carefully choose our words and reactions to those around us. In a sense, we are building houses in the way we treat each other, houses that will provide safety, security and hope. We “minister grace” through our words.
This spiritual house-building is not optional. It is critically important for the entire body of Christ. In Ephesians 4:12, Paul talks about the “perfecting” of the saints and the “building up” of the body of Christ. The word “perfecting” is a rare medical term also translated as “mending.” The building up of the church comes from the healthy mending of each member. Later in the same chapter (v. 16), the Apostle suggests that only as every member “supplies” what they are designed to give, can the body of Christ build itself up in love and grow into the “full measure of the stature of Christ.”
What are you building through your words, and through the way you treat others? Are you building them up or tearing them down? Do your words build healthy relationship or do they contribute to broken relationships?