The E’s of Christian Living
The Bible is filled with instructions, guidance and examples for Christian living which we are called to and which also pleases God and brings Him glory. While many of us gravitate towards an ease towards living for Christ, perhaps we should be pursuing the E’s. I’m referring to Edification, Encouragement, and Exhortation.
Edification is the act of instructing and improving someone in moral and religious knowledge and matters. We need to focus on doing things which build each other up. Romans 14:19 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11 instructs us to “pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.”
We’re also told in Romans 15:2, “Each one of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” That is also the purpose of our spiritual gifts. We are all given these gifts to promote “the common good” of the body of Christ. We are called to exercise our gifts to edify one another. I Corinthians 14:12 says to use our gifts to excel in building up the church. We will not find anywhere in Scripture that we need to be edified. We cannot edify ourselves. It’s all about giving and not receiving. Another important thing to point out is that, because of the nature of edification, it is not something we can accomplish in isolation. If we are all given spiritual gifts and are instructed to exercise them for the purpose of edifying one another, it implies that we be with one another. It requires being with and in the company of other believers. This is accomplished through fellowship, through corporate or congregational worship or just spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Edification can also take the form of communication. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:29 instructs us to "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."
Encouragement is to give support, confidence and hope to someone; to inspire and stimulate with courage, spirit, or hope. This can be done in so many ways and it doesn’t have to be done with words. Scripture doesn’t give a template or a list of encouraging acts because this could be limiting as lists so often do. It is so much broader than any list could give. It could be done through a note of encouragement , praying with someone, or giving a small thoughtful gift. Some women in our church participate in a secret sister event where they are paired with another woman in the church and provide some type of gift or other form of encouragement. In the same way, we can do that randomly at any time. The cool part is that we can remain anonymous and don’t even have to reveal who provided that form of encouragement. God knows, He desires that of us, and that’s all that really matters. Hebrews 3:13 says that we should “encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.
Exhortation is an act of inciting, advising, and even strongly urging someone to do something. It requires a response and action. We have so many passages that speak to this.
Exhortation towards salvation. Peter did this in Acts 2:40, “With many other words he testified and strongly urged (exhorted) them, saying, ‘Be saved from this corrupt generation.”
Exhortation to give. 2 Corinthians 9:5 speaks of Paul urging them to give as the Macedonians gave to support those in need in Jerusalem.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 exhorts us to fulfill God’s will for our lives which involves our sanctification: keeping away from sexual immorality, controlling our bodies towards holiness and honor.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 We exhort you brothers and sisters: warn those who are idle, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what it good for one another and for all.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 Now we command and exhort such people (busybodies) by the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and provide for themselves.
But as for you brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.
So why should we take heed and comply with these E’s of Christian living? First of all, because it is God’s will for us. And notice that there are no conditions for doing these things. We shouldn’t only do these things when everything is going well in our lives. In fact, we can benefit from doing this when we are being challenged or going through difficult circumstances in our own lives. This is one way of taking the focus off of ourselves and the difficulty we are going through and doing something for someone else. Doing so can be a blessing for ourselves as well.
Edify, Exhort, and Encourage one another in love!