1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.
The word for edify which is used in the original Greek is oikodomeo (oy-kod-om-eh’-o) [i]
- to build a house, erect a building
- to build (up from the foundation)
- to restore by building, to rebuild, repair
- to found, establish
- to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness
- to grow in wisdom and piety
When you look at the same verse with this in mind it might read
All things are lawful, but not all things establish or
All things are lawful, but not all things build up or
All things are lawful, but not all things restore or
All things are lawful, but not all things promote growth.
Each of us are given gifts that are to help edify the church and each other. There are office gifts, and ministry gifts and spirit gifts.
There are seven office gifts. The number seven represent completeness. God does everything to completion and everyone is whole and complete with the Lord in them. These gifts are also called motivational gifts because God gives them to us to motivate us to do service for him. These gifts can be found in Romans 12.
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many member in one body and all member do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace give to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Romans 12:3-13
We are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
Because these gifts come from God, there is no reason for self-righteousness. You have nothing to do with the ability that is given; it is pure grace of God. God gives each of us power to fulfill the ministry He has given us for the church. It is by the grace of God that we have these gifts; they can not be received from anywhere else. The Lord gives these gifts in accordance with His purpose and we, in turn, should use them to fulfill that purpose. We are to exercise them accordingly, which means we should not refuse to use them or deny we have the gift.
Each of us has one or more gifts to help build up, to help edify the church. In verse 9 it says let love be without hypocrisy. That’s means to let your love be sincere, genuine, undisguised. Show your love in truth. True unconditional love will build up, false love or hypocrisy will tear down.
The Lord gave me a verse for this.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; For once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. James 1:23
There are some people who are like a harlequin. They have two faces. One face for certain times and a different face for other times. These might be people who go to church and seem to worship God with all their heart, but then when they leave, all of that stays at the church and they seem to leave God at the church also. Its like they are two totally different people. This is hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy in Greek is hupokrisis (hoop-ok’-ree-sis); acting under a feigned part, i.e. (figuratively) deceit (“hypocrisy”)
When used in a religious context it means you know what the word of God says, you act the part when in front of other Christians, but you do not live and breathe the word outside of church. So to be without hypocrisy you must live the word of God no matter where you are or who you are with.
And in verse 13 it says you should be contributing to the needs of the saints. We are to play a role in helping the saints become all they can be for the Lord. This is why the Lord gave these gifts. We are not to deny using them and we are not to deny the use of them.
There are the ministry gifts. There are nine ministry gifts and they are found in 1 Corinthians.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:4 – 11
These ministry gifts are also given to us so we may be able to do a work according to God’s plan. Not everyone has all the gifts, though you may have more than one. But you will have a least one. We are also not to get puffed up over these gifts because they are given by the grace of God. Without Him we are nothing.
One more set of gifts we are given to edify the church is found in Ephesians. There are five of these gifts. The number five represents grace. These are known as the five fold ministry.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ; Ephesians 4:7-13
The way I remember these gifts is the way my pastor taught them to me. Look at your hand. The thumb is the apostle because it can touch all the fingers. The apostle is a person who touches all. The prophet is the pointing finger because he shows the way. The evangelist is the longest finger, the middle finger because he reaches the farthest. The pastor is the ring finger because he is the one who helps to bind the people to the Lord. And the smallest finger, the pinky finger, is the teacher because the word of God says in James 3:1 “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” The teachers incur stricter judgment because it is important to maintain the integrity of the word.
Remember all things are lawful, but not all things build up. All these gifts are given to each of us to edify the people. God supplies our every need, we ourselves are a need for someone else, just as others are given to fill a need we have. By learning how to see and use the gifts we have been given, we will be able build up the church and be in accordance with the word of God.
Let’s look at Romans 15 for a moment.
Verse 1-2 says “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.”
This is talking about those who are strong in faith need to help those who are not strong in faith. By sharing your strength you will help build their faith. You will promote the growth of each person in the church. Once you have seen the truth of the sacrifice Christ made it is important to grow each person’s faith so they do not turn back to their old ways. We are to look after our salvation first, but we are not to neglect the needs of the weak either. We need to respect each other and not take a “my way is the only way” attitude because God’s way is a more excellent way.
If you truly love the Lord you will promote the growth of those who are newly born. There is a parable in Matthew 25 which tells of how Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. To the sheep the Lord says I was a stranger and you let me in, you have me something to eat, something to drink, you clothed me, you visited me when I was sick and came to me when I was in prison. To the goats he said you did none of these things. The people did not understand how they could have done or not done these things because they did not see him and His response was “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did (or did not do) to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did (or did not do) to Me.
Who are the brothers of Christ? You are, I am, the man down the street is. There are some who believe once they receive Christ into their heart that is it, they are going to heaven. They think they don’t have to do anything else. But the reality is if you died right then yes, you would go to heaven because you have been washed clean from sin, all your past iniquities are gone. But most of us don’t die right then and there, and we become believers. If you have truly received Christ into your heart, you will have a desire, somewhere inside you, to love. Most people do not understand that you will be judged on how much you love your brethren.
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does no love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:14-15
How can you turn your back on a person in need and have love in you? If you see a homeless person on the street, is it your place to judge that person? If you turn your back on his need, do you truly love him? If you knew it were Christ what would you give him?
If you bring someone to know Christ and then forget about them and not nurture them or promote their growth in the Lord, do you truly love them? Or are you being like a murderer, letting them wither and die?
We who are strong in faith should bear the weakness of those who are not strong, we are to promote their growth.
All things are lawful, but not all things establish. This is a very important thing to learn. To establish a true relationship with the Lord we need to be shown God’s love in truth. Let me tell you about my first experience with a particular group of Christians. I was having a truly difficult time just before I was born again, my life was a shambles and I had turned to alcohol to solve my problems. A person reached out to me and offered to pray with me. When I thought they were going to help me pray over my problems they had actually tricked me into praying the prayer of salvation, to accept Jesus into my life. All that did was make me angry and hateful. I felt I had been wronged and didn’t want any part of it. It also made my already huge distrust of people just that much more solid. God does not want people manipulated into coming into His loving embrace. Manipulation in that way does not come from love but from a selfish need. Yes we are to bring people to the Lord, but we must do it in love and in truth.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:14-15
We as Christians are to take on the responsibility of learning God’s word; we are to promote our own growth as well as the growth of our brothers and sisters. We are to learn the truth so we can share the truth; we are to learn God’s love so we can share God’s love.
We are to speak the truth in love in order to build up the church in love. We can not do that if we bring people to the Lord with deceit. The phrase “deceitful scheming” means to lead someone astray by teaching a wrong mode of acting, by building a wrong moral foundation. Christ is the chief cornerstone, and we are the building blocks. If the blocks are created with lies, the building will eventually crumble. But if the blocks are made with truth they will be strong and it will survive even the worst of storms.
All things are lawful, but not all things restore. I found the word restore to be an interesting word. I always thought of restoring to mean to put something back the way it was to start with.
If this were true none of us should want to be restored, unless we are restored to our “new self”. But when I looked this word up in a lexicon I found it means to complete, to prepare, to strengthen, perfect or, to make one what he ought to be. You will find people who believe they can make you complete and perfect, but the truth is that there is only one who can do this.
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
God Himself is going to make you what he wants you to be. No man can mold you in truth, though they will try. No man can tell you what you are and what you are not, even though you might listen. But God is more powerful than any man and He will always win. He has a plan already laid out for you, it is our choice to believe and accept it or reject it. It is our choice whether to listen to man or to listen to God.
What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only but also from among Gentiles. Romans 9:22
Let’s face it. God could, if He really wanted to, totally destroy every person on the face of this earth in the blink of an eye. But would that reflect love? I don’t think so. God is love and in order for God to be love there are a couple of things to remember. God would much rather you repent your sin and follow His ways that anything else. He does not want to discipline you, He does not want to destroy you or harm you in anyway. All he wants is for us to love each other.
There are two revelations that I was given about this.
The first one is that putting Christ on the cross for our sins was indeed the greatest sacrifice and it was made with unconditional love. The Lord set us free from sin that day and gave us a gift of eternal life. But as it is such a big thing for us, it is still only a small portion of the infinite love God has for each of us.
The second one is that we as humans will never fully grasp the magnitude of this kind of unconditional love. It is too big for our human minds to comprehend and we have lost touch with how to see it with our hearts. That is why God gives us His grace and mercy.
The good news is that God doesn’t expect us to fully understand this love, but just to know that He has that kind of love for us. That when we mess up all we have to do is say we are sorry. Mistakes are forgiven. And all God wants us to do is to try to love others the same way. Forgive their mistakes and accept them for who they are just as God accepts us for who we are. This is why we are taught:
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37 – 39
Give God all your love from every fiber of your being and love your neighbor. That’s it. That is all God wants from you. It’s very simple. It’s all about love.