A Study on Mutual Edification – Part 1

Recently, I had a conversation with a brother about mutual edification. The funny thing is that our conversation that started out as a light hearted dialogue, turned into a more heated debate/argument, which I realized was far from mutually edifying. I hope you see the irony in this. I then started to consider all the scriptures that spoke about mutual edification and realized that I needed to rethink the way I dialogued with people. I realized that it is possible to sacrifice brotherly love, unity, and mutual edification on the altar of truth/doctrine. To me this is a sacrifice not worth making, which caused me to cease from further dialogue. I’d rather be seen as losing an argument than losing a brother and a friend. With this in mind, I have decided to do a brief study on some of the scriptures that talk about mutual edification, to help clarify my understanding on the matter and to perhaps edify you in some way.

To kick things off, I want to take a look at Romans 14:19.

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. NASB

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. NIV

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. ESV

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. NKJV

There are two main things we can see in this verse, from the different translations. Firstly, the definition of mutual edification is ‘building up of one another’ or ‘by which one may edify another’. I would simply define mutual edification as the ‘building up or edifying of Christians by Christians’. I also believe the ‘mutual’ or ‘one another’ part is just as important as the ‘edification’ or ‘building up’ part.

Secondly, Paul states that we must ‘pursue’ or ‘make every effort’ to do the things that lead to mutual edification. This means we need to be active and intentional about building one another up. For Paul to say it in this way means that mutual edification is an extremely important aspect of the Christian life. But how does this verse fit into the context? Let’s take a look.

I encourage you to go and read the whole of Romans 14 to get it’s proper context. A summary would be that Paul is talking about how we should relate to brothers or sisters who believe or understand things differently to the way we do. He uses the example of eating different types of food. One brother believes he can eat all foods and another brother only certain foods. He talks about how the brother who eats all foods may cause the brother who thinks he can only eat certain foods, to stumble.

Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Rom 14:15

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Rom 14:19-21

Notice how Paul expands his teaching from just food to ‘anything’ in the last verse. To me the principle that comes out loud and strong that Paul promotes is the following: We should avoid anything that causes a brother to fall, stumble, be offended, and made weak, at all costs, and we must pursue or make every effort to edify or build one another up.

If we offend a brother or make him stumble, we are no longer walking in love. But, if we are building one another up, then we are truly walking in the love of Christ. In fact a sure way to avoid anything that causes a brother to stumble is to make every effort in pursuing mutual edification among a group of brothers and sisters. The opposite of tearing down is building up. Let us build one another up rather than tear one another down.

I hope this brief study has been useful and will help you on your journey of ‘pursuing’ mutual edification. Be blessed brothers and sisters.

A Study on Mutual Edification – Part 2

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Nathan Odell Nathan Odell is the author of Joined to Him. You can connect with him on

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Comments

  1. Nathan I have really been liking your tone over the last few blog posts. respect the direction you’ve been taking of late. Also liked the link to Viola’s advice to those considering leaving ‘formal church’. Gonna keep reading ur posts.

    • Thanks James. I appreciate your reply and encouragement. Are you considering leaving ‘formal church’? If you want to get new posts via email, then you can subscribe or you can see when I post them on FB. Blessing brother.

  2. Humility is such a rare but treasured gift. We honour the Lord for what is happening in our lives as we humble ouselves before the Lord and others. I believe it was that great saint Andrew Murray who declared that just as water always flows to the lowest point, so will God’s grace flow to the humble heart/life. Bless you Nathan!

  3. Nope, I just really apprechiated how mature Viola’s advice and comments on the issue were.

    • Cool. I agree, Frank is one of my favorite authors. He writes brilliantly and has a real humility in his writings. A few of his books are also in my top 5 christian books ever read, specifically “From Eternity to Here” and a close second “A Jesus Manifesto”. I would recommend these books to any Christian alive!

Trackbacks

  1. […] my previous post “A Study on Mutual Edification – Part 1“, I initiated a study on the main verses in the new testament that talk about mutual […]

  2. […] one or two brothers or sisters. The body is designed to grow when we all function and receive from one another. I’ll end off with another quote from Watchmen Nee, which summarizes the heart of the topic […]

  3. […] use of the phrase “one another”, shows us that the early churches were characterized by mutuality and a deep shared-life community. What surprised me while reading these verses, was that there was an obvious and major theme that […]

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