As we study the writings of the New Testament, we have to remember that Paul, Peter, and others are writing generically to an abstract mass of people. They are writing to specific congregation with specific strengths and needs, trying to build up and encourage these brothers and sisters as best they can. In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus singles Peter out, requesting him to make it a point of his life to strengthen other Christians, and, in Ephesians 4:12, Paul states that the purpose of working in the church is to the purpose of building up and strengthening its members.
How Can We Strengthen and Equip Each Other?
We grow through study.
In Acts 18:24-26, we are introduced to an individual named Apollos who is described as eloquent and knowledgeable in God’s word, but he needs more. He is still missing some information, and Aquila and Priscilla provide him with more instruction. When discussing the Bible, both teacher and student are encouraged and built up. This is not an activity limited to designated preachers during designated times of worship. Anyone can participate in this anywhere and anyplace.
Hebrews 5:12-14 serves as a warning against spiritual immaturity, but it also speaks of a need for those willing to teach. He encourages them to build each other up and to grow more mature through study. Each day we fail to grow stronger, we weaken, and we should be concerned for each other’s and our own spiritual well being. If God’s word is not in our hearts, His spirit cannot guide our lives.
We Strengthen Through Our Example.
In I Timothy 4:12, Paul encourages Timothy to be an example to others around him. When we see someone we respect or who may be having difficulties provide an example of faith, we are strengthened. We are all in a position to be a role model to someone. Younger Christians and older Christians alike can be examples for each other, and we should be humble and patient enough to receive the instruction implicit in another’s example.
We should respect what experiences others can provide. In I Kings 12, Rehoboam rejects the advice of his elders and ends up splitting the kingdom. In Romans 12:1-2 encourages us to check ourselves, trying to see ourselves as others and God does. Do I portray someone concerned with spiritually matters, or am I still an example of worldliness?
We should help each other get equipped.
In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul begins to describe an armor we are to wear as Christians that allows us to stand against those temptations and trials that may cause us to fall. Full preparation brings courage and hope, and we need help to fully equip ourselves. In Hebrews 6:17-20, the author writes of our anchor, hour hope, and our encouragement in God’s promises. In this, we push each other towards the goal, looking out for one another. Sometimes we simply need to remind ourselves that our hope comes from the goodness of God, and we are strongest when we are not alone.
We are strongest when we are helping each other, when we are being the example we should be, and when we study God’s word and let it guide us. As Christians, we should be committed to strengthening and helping each other reach our goal, maintain our hope, and stay on the path guiding us to Heaven. We cannot make it alone. Alone we are not anchored, tossed about by the troubles of this world, but we can help each other and rely on our Lord as we continue on that road.
lesson by Tim Smelser