Christianity 201

July 19, 2020

Builders and Wreckers

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
 – 1 Thess. 5:11 NIV

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
 – Eph. 4:29 NIV

So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
 – Rom 14:19 NLT

Looking today at some of the earliest posts on our parent blog, Thinking Out Loud, I discovered an item of poetry which was also shared once here in 2011, but never repeated. I thought it was definitely worth another look, especially in light of the hyper-critical spirit we see on so much social media, as well as the polarization which takes place when people have an opinion different from our own. If you post something, and enough people see it, someone will find something objectionable about it.

As a parable for our times, I think this couldn’t be clearer or more powerful…

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho, heave, ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a wall fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?
Like the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He laughed as he replied, “No, indeed,
Just common labor is all I need.

I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken years to do.”
I asked myself as I went away
Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by rule and square?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Oh Lord, let my life and labors be
That which build for eternity.

…At the time it was posted I found some accompanying comments on websites carrying the poem, but unfortunately didn’t link them at the time. Here they are…

■ Why do so many of us find it gratifying to be sideline cynics smothering ideas in a relentless barrage of “what ifs” and warnings? As the poem points out, it’s much easier to be a wrecker than a builder.

■ Of course it’s wise and necessary to challenge assumptions, test theories and predict problems, but that should be the beginning not an end. We should measure our value by the number of balloons we helped launch, not the number we deflated.

■ A builder sees problems as challenges and seeks solutions; a dismantler sees problems in every solution. A builder sees flaws and tries to fix them; a dismantler sees flaws in every fix.

We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things… We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer.
– Hebrews 10:24-25 CEV

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up…May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
– Romans 15: 1-2, 5-7 ESV

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
– Ephesians 4: 11-13 NRSV