What are you building?

I love old buildings. I spent the weekend in a charming little town in southern Indiana. It was established in the 1800s and still has many homes and structures from that time period.

Historic buildings tell me stories. The lines of the mortar lead my mind back to another era. The windows whisper about the people who used to reside behind them. The craftsmanship tells me the desire to create beauty is one of the connecting points of humanity.

I wonder if the builders knew their construction would last over a hundred of years.

There seems to be this drive within all of us to build something.

My desire to build takes me in a few different directions.

I try to build up my material worth. I want to build a better wardrobe. I want to put together a more beautiful house. I want to form my body into a more desirable shape. I want to assemble more items that help me have fun in my free time.

This kind of building is not bad in and of itself. But it can be a dangerous path.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. – Matt 6:19

I try to build my accomplishments. I want to build a reputation as a leader. I want to do big things. I want to make a difference in the world.

Again, this kind of building is not bad in and of itself. But it can also be a dangerous path. In fact, I read a wonderful piece recently by Addie Zierman about not changing the world.

But then, there is another direction. One that is not fraught with dangers around every turn.

When Jesus was giving his final words to His disciples, He told them how the world would know about Him. It wouldn’t be through their words or their accomplishments or their church buildings.

It would be through their love.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35

People are eternal. All other things around us will eventually fade away. How we treat other people, that will last. That will spread. That will make a difference.

The most important thing we can build is love towards people.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thess 5:11

We have the ability to infuse people with courage and build them up with hope. Through our actions and words, we can help them know that they are loved. That they are valuable. That they have a purpose.

We are in a period of history where words are some of our greatest weapons. We sling them around carelessly. We demonize those we disagree with. We forget, especially on the Internet, that behind every word, is a person. A person deeply loved by our Creator.

So how about this challenge today from Ephesians?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Eph 4:29

As we seek to build up our identity, our possessions, our dreams, and our legacy, let’s not forget to also build up the people around us.

It is the most important building we can do.