Will you build up or break down?
I want you to picture two guys leaving church after their regular church service. Their conversation goes something like this:
Guy 1: "G'day, how's it going?"
Guy 2: "So-so"
Guy 1: "Things OK with you?"
Guy 2: "I didn't get much out of this morning!"
Guy 1: "" .. " .. " .. ??"
What comes next? Potentially two entirely different conversations could eventuate. Two paths lie open. Which one will be traversed?
Pathway 1 represents what you would say if you wanted to help Guy 2 push on in the Christian life.
Pathway 2 represents what you could say if you wanted to confirm Guy 2 in his disenchantment or discouragement.
We find ourselves in similar situations all too regularly and the decision has to be made. The question standing in front of us, what would you say? It's a decision that has to be made " will I build or will I break? " will I minister or will I maim? It goes to our deepest motivations. It taps into what we really want as a Christian. It reveals just how much we have a "servant heart' and how much we are "other-person-centred'. Simply put, the question before each of us is, "Will you build up or break down?'
We know how to be cynical, facetious or derogatory. We know how to gossip, belittle or mock. But what do we say when we want to bring about a godly outcome? According to Ephesians 4:29 we don't have a choice in the matter. The apostle Paul commanded the Ephesians to stop any "unwholesome talk' coming out of their mouths. Rather, it had to be that which "builds, so that it might benefit'.
Responses in conversations are a matter of genuine consideration or concern for others. They are not simply a matter of intelligence or education. They are opportunities for ministry that occur almost daily.
So what might benefit Guy 2 in the conversation above? Whatever the answer it will mean that I will have to put aside time constraints, personal idiosyncrasies and a natural inclination not to become involved (after all, I don't want to hear another whinge).
The additional questions facing me are "Do I want to see the other person in heaven with me?" "Do I care?" In this year of specific and intentional connecting I will have to make sure my answer is an unreserved "Yes!' I must be committed to building up and resist breaking down and therefore I will have to choose my words carefully.
It's your turn now " what would you have "Guy 1' say to his friend?
Jim Ramsay is the CEO of Evangelism Ministries, the outreach arm of the Sydney Diocese. Click here to visit the Evangelism Ministries web site.