Building Up or Tearing Down?

by Tom Kraeuter, Hillsboro, Missouri

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up... (Ephesians 4:29)

Not long ago my wife and I watched a movie. In one brief scene a doorman at a swanky hotel made a passing comment to one of the main characters. The main character moved on and the scene ended. That was it. The doorman's entire line was less than ten words. We never saw him again for the rest of the movie. My wife thought it was sad that his whole role lasted less than fifteen seconds. He came on the screen, said his very brief line and it was over. I hope that wasn't the entirety of his acting career.

In the opening chapter of Paul's second letter to Timothy, four people are mentioned who are not found anywhere else in Scripture. They kind of remind me of that doorman. Bit parts. Not well-known. We know a little more about these folks than about the doorman, but not much. Two of them are mentioned very favorably and the other two not so favorably. But in some ways, Lois, Eunice, Phygelus and Hermogenes can be glimpses of you and me.

Lois was Timothy's grandmother, and Eunice was his mother. Paul tells us that they were believers. We are left with the impression that these two women were a big encouragement to Timothy in his faith in Christ Jesus. Their impact on Timothy was apparently profound.

Phygelus and Hermogenes, on the other hand, had "turned away" from Paul. Did they once support his ministry, encouraging others to heed his words, and then stopped? We don't know for sure. All we know is that they somehow turned away. Something quite negative had apparently occurred. And the text gives us the impression that they were among the leaders of an entire following who turned away from Paul.

Paul mentions Lois and Eunice -- their only mention in Scripture -- in an extremely positive light. The other two, Phygelus and Hermogenes -- also the only time they are listed in the Bible -- are spoken of in harsher terms.

Most of us will never be as prominent as the Apostle Paul, or Moses or David or even Timothy. The majority of us will never be as well-known as Max Lucado or Billy Graham or Matt Redman or Bill Gaither. We will, at least from a worldly perspective, probably be only bit players. Walk-ons. Extras.

But let's get personal for a moment. If you got just one small scene in the movie made about the worship ministry of your church, what would you want your role to look like? Would you want to be remembered positively or negatively? In other words, are you building people up -- as our opening verse says we should -- or are you tearing them down?

Even in what we might consider to be an insignificant role, we can still make a big difference. Timothy is mentioned more than two dozen times in the New Testament. His life had an undeniable impact on many. But would Timothy's life have been the same without the effect of his mother's and grandmother's nurturing? Probably not. Although Lois and Eunice are only mentioned once, they clearly had more impact than that single verse.

So what does this mean from a practical perspective? For starters, begin looking for opportunities to build people up in your worship ministry. Look for ways to encourage one another, and then actually go and do it. Be quick to forgive and quick to overlook an offense. Pray for your fellow team members and for your leadership. Look for opportunities to help. Ask God to show you ways that you can build up both the worship ministry of your church and the individuals on the team.

Yes, right there in the worship ministry of your church, you can have a dramatic impact. Will you choose to tear people down or to build people up? It's your choice. Choose wisely.

1. Do you prefer being around people who build up or those who tear down? Why?
2. Assuming that you'd rather be remembered more like Lois and Eunice than Phygelus or Hermogenes, what can you do -- practically -- to head in that direction?
3. Tell about someone in your life who has made a positive and lasting impact.

Greg FriesenComment