Build Each Other Up

Antuan, beneficiary of grace and mercy, child of the Most High God, benefactor of love,
To my loves and others,

We exist to build each other up. To serve. To encourage. To comfort. To forgive. To love.

That is the first thought. And I want you to keep coming back to it.

We live in a critical world and tend to be very critical people. It is becoming easier and easier to critique others, especially with social media, and when it can be anonymous or outside of a person’s range of vision or hearing. When you meet a person, you take snapshots of the person in your mind, assess them, and come up with your own conclusions, impressions. After spending time with a person, you begin to develop a better understanding, in theory, with effective data to perform a rough analysis of their identity, character, nature. It is common practice in life that when we have an opinion of another, we share it with people we know.

Now, once we have an idea about a person, once we see something disagreeable, either on a sensory, intellectual, or spiritual level, how we choose to react/respond has repercussions for ourselves, the person, and others with whom we or that person may interact.

This is where I want to meet your heart today. I want you to consider a way of approaching situations, people. I want you to consider your words most of all, as they carry consequence.


We’re critical of others and situations but do nothing about it. We’ll see something, whisper to a friend, laugh, and that’s it. See a negative. Produce more negative. No positive change. No constructive outcome.

There may be situations or instances, especially in politics, where we feel something can’t be done. Some things may be out of our hands. I’m not talking about that stuff. I’m talking about the little stuff, everyday things we see in others that we choose to comment about but don’t address, don’t help.

I also want to address gossip. When two people gossip about a person or situation, they’re speaking not about strategy to improve a situation or help a person out. They’re doing so because they need something to talk about, for entertainment value, out of sheer curiosity, but it’s a matter they’re either not involved in or are involved in but aren’t constructively addressing. And again, it’s usually negative.

My hope is that we can make an assertive effort to turn a negative into a positive.

This is my challenge to you:

If you’re going to say something about someone or a situation, you have an obligation to constructively act to help the person or improve the situation.

Honestly ask yourself:

“If I had a problem, if I had an issue, would I want people to criticize, mock, insult, or help me? If there was a misunderstanding, would I rather people talk amongst themselves or directly to me? If a person doesn’t like something about me, would I rather that person keep it to him or herself or share it with me, and not to another person, so it can be addressed. If I have an issue I need help with, would I rather people talk around me about it or to me, knowing the conversation could clarify confusion, misunderstandings, or help me fix something that’s I’ve needed help with?”

My greatest issue is with gossip, mostly because it only makes matters worse. Because it’s all talk, and not constructive talk. If person A has an issue with person B, those two should resolve it (perhaps with the aid of one or two other peoples/mediators), or part ways. It shouldn’t be a person A and person B have a dispute and twenty other people talk about it, escalate it, with inaccuracies and misunderstandings.

If you have a disagreement with a person, you talk to that person. You especially don’t blast the person in secret. That is cowardice. That is wrong. That is not constructive.

But there are other, pettier things.

If you don’t like someone’s hair, instead of making fun of that person’s hair, buy them a gift card to get their hair done, especially if it’s in shambles.

If you don’t like someone’s clothes, buy them a gift card to get new clothing. You could even go so far as to inviting them out to go clothes shopping and point out fashion tips.

If you don’t like the way a person smells, have a discreet conversation with that person about an odor, ask what’s going on. You could go so far as to buy that person cologne, perfume, mints.

If you make fun of a person for being broke, take the initiative and work with the person to get him or her a job. Take time to feel out the person’s gifts, talents, and support those through conversation, encouragement, or monetarily. If you are fortunate enough to have a wide social network, reach out to your friends to get that person a job.

If you feel a person is lazy or wastes time or doesn’t have a life, again, have a direct conversation about how that person could be filling their time. Not in a lecture kind of way. Find out what that person’s interests are. Perhaps feel out what regrets they have about things they didn’t try. That person may have a natural gift for music they never had a chance to explore.

If you see that a person is lonely, befriend that person. Get to know that person better. Introduce that person to others, even to a special/cute someone, depending on their kind of lonely.

If you think a person is a loser, get to know that person. Show compassion. Invite that person out to have safe and intimate discussions. You’d be amazed at how incredible that person could be. And if they’re not incredible, here is an opportunity to support and elevate that person.

Every complaint we have about another person is an opportunity to help or uplift that person. But I should point out, we have two options: help or restrain our tongues.


One of the reasons I’m so adamant about us being more uplifting and supportive is because I’ve been on the other side. I’ve seen and know the consequences words can have on peoples’ lives on either side of the equation. Words can strengthen or poison a person, small group, or whole community.

If you speak a positive word about Bob to Joe, you will be planting a positive seed into Joe’s mind. Joe will initially view Bob more openly and acceptingly than if it were a negative word. Joe will also view you more positively, because you have introduced a positive word into his mind. You have a constructive situation where Bob and Joe have a greater likelihood of having a functional and constructive interaction.

If you speak a negative word about Bob to Joe, you will be planting a negative seed in Joe’s mind. His opinion of Bob is lower. His expectations are lower. His likelihood to like him are less. His willingness to accept Bob’s words or opinions are lessened. Bob will have to work harder to meet Joe’s approval. Your words have a created a boundary that will reduce and even hinder a constructive interaction. There is in fact a greater likelihood of conflict.

Now, what if you spoke that word about Bob to Joe, and Joe shared that word with others. Well, if it is positive, than whoever is within that social network is more likely to have a positive opinion about Bob as the word spreads. And words spread. If the words are negative, Bob is regarded negatively by the social network. Your words to Joe have potentially poisoned Bob’s interactions with the entire social network. The worse the word, the worse the response Bob will get from others. He will have to work harder to appease an entire group of people and may even be put in a situation where he has to find a new social network. A place where he can work on building relationships without a stigma.

Now, I’ll explain in a different way, as I am a Christian, and more than likely, others reading this are. We are commanded to resolve things with people, forgive, or if necessary, cut all ties. This must be done directly between the two people who have a dispute, unless there is the need for an impartial mediator or observer.

When we go out of our way to speak negative words about others, especially unjustified and inaccurate words, we sin against that person. The words are poison. Again, any time we speak against a person, and our words are not truthful or in alignment with God, we've sinned against person. If those words then spread, everyone who speaks that word is sinning against that person. Now, because they are your words, you are also sinning against that person every time someone else is sinning against that person with your words.

Think about the intermediaries. You are not only sinning against that person. But you may be causing all of those other people to sin against that person. You are damaging or killing existing or potential friendships and relationships. You may not want to take responsibility for other people repeating your words or acting—and I encourage all of you to be mindful of what words you repeat—but if the person has a habit of gossiping, it’s like handing an alcoholic a bottle of beer and not expecting that person to drink it.

Think of it this way. If Bob says something unfortunate about Sally to five people. He has sinned against Sally five times. He has also sinned against the people he told by speaking an inaccurate statement to them. If those five people then speak to five other people, Bob has sinned against Sally twenty-five times, those first five people have sinned against Sally and to five other people, and Bob has also sinned against those later five people. If those twenty-five people each speak to five other people. Bob has sinned against Sally one-hundred and twenty-five times. For every time that ill-spoken word was spoken about her, he sinned against her.

How many of those people would have sat down and had an honest conversation with Sally? Traditionally, none. People who hear gossip or a negative word don’t generally go to the source or the subject of gossip or negative word for a clarification. No. Poisonous words poison our perceptions. After they’ve heard the negative word, it puts an idea in people’s heads. The wrong ideas can have negative relational consequences.

I tell you: gossip is a monster sin.

Do you see how one person can have such a negative impact on a group of people?

Now, if Bob said something positive, uplifting, and true, it would not have been a sin against Sally, but a blessing. Instead of relationally tearing her down, that would have been one-hundred and twenty-five praises.

Therefore, I encourage you all to take a critique and look for an opportunity to build someone up. Take a negative and find a way of turning it into a positive. We have a commandment to love our neighbors. We are to love them with our words, actions, and hearts. We can also love them by not opening our mouths.

We exist to build each other up. To serve. To encourage. To comfort. To forgive. To love. Please, do not work against our reason for existing. That is the pursuit of death.


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