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“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”—Romans 14:19 (NIV)
There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In our world, we want to get things done quickly. We live in a fast-paced and individualistic society. While we should not base our lives on extrabiblical quotes, there’s a wisdom in this statement that overlaps with Scripture. The apostle Paul wrote similar messages to the early church about what it means to do life together, as community equips the Church for corporate growth and service.
In today’s verse, Paul admonishes the reader to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Another translation says to do what makes for peace and leads to the building up of one another. According to Blue Letter Bible, the Greek word here, oikodomē, means “the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, and holiness.” Notice that building up does not happen to yourself and by yourself. The goal here is to build up someone else! And it’s someone else’s job to build you up. That kind of mutual edification and corporate growth must happen in community.
Paul writes to Timothy about the gifts he’s been given by God. On their own and without use, gifts will not grow. They need to be fanned, cultivated, and developed to reach their fullest potential, and that happens when we’re together. Remember, “If you want to go far, go together.”
Finally, the writer of Hebrews has a similar message: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25 NIV). We ought to be focusing our mind and attention on how to encourage one another towards love and good deeds. This cannot happen if we give up meeting together!
The word for “encourage” here in the Greek, parakaleō, is the verb form of parakletos. This is significant, because parakletos is the word that is often associated with the Holy Spirit as our Helper and Advocate. God the Holy Spirit exists in perfect community with the Father and the Son. So, the gifts we’ve been given by God allow us to help, advocate, serve, and strengthen one another in the same way God Himself does. It’s not dependent on us. It’s all given from God!
There is great power in community. Let’s not forget to meet together, bring our God-given gifts, and set our attention on building up one another for one another. Let’s see how far we can go together!
Pause: Reflect on the way you do life. Do you prefer to work alone or with someone else? There are times for both. Name one area where it’s better for you to do life with someone else.
Practice: In that area, invite a few friends to meet together and talk about it. Share with them what you’ve learned and what you want to work on. Ask them how you can build them up. Challenge them to think about how they might build you up.
Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us good gifts and showing us what it’s like to live in perfect community. Give me more of Your Holy Spirit to live and serve like You do—building others up in love. When I begin to be restless and move towards doing things on my own, remind me to think of others and look for ways to encourage them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.