One of the responsibilities of the Church is edification. The meaning of edification is to build up. In the context of the Church, edification involves: constructive speech and behavior by Christian disciples and leaders to spiritually strengthen the Church and those whom they interact with outside of the Church.
Romans 14:17-19 – “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
Edifying speech is not limited to “happy talk”. While sharing the positive concepts of love, peace, purity, and eternal life uplift the hearer, they cannot stand without sharing the truth about sin, repentance, judgment and eternal destruction. If a faulty foundation has been set, then that foundation must be torn down to erect a truly stable building. Paul expressed that he shared the whole counsel of God to the Ephesians (Acts 20:27). He also stated that what he taught he did so in every church everywhere (I Cor. 4:17). The truth spoken in love enables edification (Eph. 4:15). This type of speech encompasses everything from daily pleasantries to correction of sinfulness (I Thess. 5:14). It certainly does not involve false accusation, name calling, cursing, gossip, lying, or double talk (Eph. 4:29).
Edifying behavior starts with a mind striving toward purity (Phil. 4:8). When a congregation assembles, the behaviors they engage in should build up those gathered (I Cor. 14:23). Their behaviors should be authorized in the Words and Deeds of Christ (Col. 3:17, I Peter 2:21-24). When Jesus’ life is examined, it is found that all He said and all He did were what the Father commanded (John 5:30, John 12:49-50). Christian behavior should be grounded in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Their lives should not involve immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these (Gal. 5:19-21).
Edification is the responsibility of every Christian (Heb. 10:24). This certainly involves sharing the gospel (Mark 16:15, 2 Tim. 2:24), caring for the fatherless and widows (James 1:27), comforting fellow Christians (I Thess. 4:13-18, 5:11), and meeting their physical needs (I Cor. 16:1-2, I John 3:17). It should be observed that at times there is an overlap between benevolence and edification, but the result is a building up or strengthening from the actions undertaken. Quite often edification is believed to be something Christians do for others (Eph. 5:19). However, consider what the Christian does when he studies, listens to a taped sermon, or softly sings a hymn as he goes about his work. That Christian edifies himself. He strengthens himself in Christ and stirs up his mind by way of remembrance (2 Timothy 2:15, Col. 3:16, 2 Pet. 3:1).
The eldership sets the tone for edification in the Church. They watch over and build up souls. They do not ignore sin to achieve an appearance of unity or soundness. If an eldership allows unauthorized practices or teaching in the Church, edification does not occur. The kings of Israel are a good example of what happens when leadership fails to edify. An eldership must be able to hold fast the Word that they may exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict sound doctrine (Titus 1:9). A sound eldership listens when Christians are alarmed over possible sin in a congregation. They do not get angry, attack, call names, make false accusation, or chase the Christian off when warned of sin under their leadership. Self willed, quick-tempered, and pugnacious elders do not demonstrate edifying behavior (Titus 1:7). Edification starts at the top following the example of Jesus. Elders edify the Church with proper speech and behavior so that God may be glorified.