What did Paul mean that all things should be done unto edifying in love?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

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Question: What did Paul mean when he said that all things should be done unto edifying in love and decency

Answer:  Hello friend. If you end up you querying again, please try to include some scriptural citations. You see, your question captures the language of three different Pauline sections of Scripture (Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 14:40; 1 Timothy 2:9) — which are all indeed related — but it seems weighted towards Romans 14:19, which is the verse I’ll ultimately address… but I’m not sure if that’s what you’re after. Here are those verses.

Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians 14:40, AV)

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, (1 Timothy 2:9, NIV)

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19, ESV)

These three passages all have to do with Christian decorum. The focus is mostly on behavior during church “services,” but Christians should behave decently wherever they are as a general rule for life. Your question seems to center around “edifying in love.” So, let me address that. And to begin, I am going to paste in seven different translations of Romans 14:19 — because these translators have already done the heavy-lifting for us.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19, NIV)

So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another. (Romans 14:19, NET)

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (Romans 14:19, AV)

So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words;(Romans 14:19, The Message)

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19, ESV)

So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. (Romans 14:19, NLT)

So let’s pursue those things which bring peace and which are good for each other. (Romans 14:19, GW)

Please notice that every translation has a call to peace and a call to mutual upbuilding. I find the first element interesting because Paul is addressing church-going Christians. This tells me that Christians are not natively peaceful… and it takes very little introspection for me to concur.

Now, peace is a good objective in itself… but it is doesn’t really mark progress. Peace is a baseline expectation for any Christian (Colossians 3:15). Mutual upbuilding, however — that’s progress by definition. This is how we grow believers into disciples without leaving anyone behind.

Romans 14 is all about deferring to others… even at a cost to the self — and this is part of God’s special genius. You see, he encourages all believers to honor him on their own terms; this is carte blanche to worship… almost. The idea is to ensure that the weaker brethren have a clear view of God on their terms, so we let them have carte blanche instead. This is how mutual upbuilding works. When we defer to the weaker so they may get stronger, we are in no way diminished. Yet the Body of Christ is strengthened… and the rising tide lifts all our boats.

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