Build People Up, Don't Put Them Down

September 5, 2010

Excerpt from Romans 14:13-15:2

"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another...Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor."

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

Aristotle believed there were three types of friendship. There was the pleasure friendship, in which two people delight in one another's company, or a shared passion. A good example of this might be the golfing buddy or the friend you make in the choir. The second category was the advantage friendship, in which you are friends with someone because it may provide some benefit or profit to you. Here you might find the business friendship or the car pool connection. But the last category was the highest - the friendship of character. In this friendship, the very best in you loves the very best in your friend, and you aspire for the good in one another, even if that involves personal sacrifice. We please our character friends in order to build them up.

When Paul wrote this letter to the Roman church, he was giving them instructions on how to be a community of Christian virtue. Don't judge each other. Don't get in each other's way. Don't be consumed with your own perfection. Instead, build each other up. In your relationships, don't just look for pleasure or advantage, but be friends of character.

Prayer

Search my heart, dear God, so that I may know if I am being a stumbling block to another person. Help me to build others up. And bring people into my life that will love the good in me, and draw my virtue out, so that you can use it in the world. Amen.

About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Her new book, This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, co-authored with Martin B. Copenhaver, has just been published.

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