There are several places in the New Testament where we are encouraged to ‘build ourselves up’. Paul in Colossians 2:7 speaks of us needing to make sure that we are being ‘continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving’. Jude, in verse 20, also encourages us ‘Build yourself up in your most Holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit’.
Building doesn’t have to, but often does, imply putting lots of small elements together, and we have recently been thinking about the big combined effect of a lot of small things together. We looked at the numerous small steps that help us to go up to a great height; then there is also the picture of all the small drops of rain that can end up soaking us through and through. So coupling that thought about ‘building ourselves up’ with the combined effect of lots of small things, my mind turned to the picture of a very strong wall made up of a lot of small bricks.
The strongest of buildings, those that can last for centuries often have walls made of hundreds of relatively small bricks, the combined strength of which can make it so that a bulldozer or a wrecking ball will be required in order to demolish it. Now clearly those bricks, in order to stay connected and to stay strongly in place, need to be put together with some good mortar. I then got to thinking how this principle could apply to our ‘building ourselves up in faith’.
Now stay with me here! If we think of each brick as something that we can thank God for, each thing does not have to be huge in itself to be part of the building. Building myself up in order that I become ‘established in my faith’ can, and indeed must, include acknowledging and remembering the small daily things that God does, as well as the big deliverances and big moments in my life. In addition ‘building’ implies a step by step progress; as the famous saying goes, ‘Rome was not built in a day’.
The foundational stones for our faith building will be the big things that God has done for us like Jesus’ death on the cross, God’s love and kindness in searching us out, the miracle of New Birth by the Spirit and the truth that we have been given a new nature. Then there is the fact that we are totally forgiven, and let’s not forget the huge and unfathomable inheritance kept in heaven for us to enjoy for all eternity. Thanksgiving for these wonderful things that God has done will be the foundation upon which we ‘build ourselves up’.
Day by day, brick by brick, we can build upon these foundations. As we give thanks for all those daily mercies and blessings, for all those truths that I read in the bible daily, for all the daily provision that I receive for my body, mind and spirit, for all the day to day friendship and fellowship with the Lord, all His daily leading and guiding; as I receive and acknowledge all of these, with thanksgiving, they become the bricks with which I can build myself up in my faith.
In this context thanksgiving is like the mortar that connects and holds these ‘bricks’ from all my day to day life experiences together. This then becomes about building up my spiritual resilience and strength. When the enemy tries to demolish me by sending in a wrecking ball, if I have been building myself up day by day, with thanksgiving for all that the Lord does for me, then I will have more resilience against the doubts and fears with which the enemy would assail me.
Thanksgiving is like the cement that holds together lots of small bricks of blessing to make a very strong wall of defense around my heart, mind and spirit. As those verses quoted earlier from Colossians and from Jude suggest, we build ourselves up in faith as we ‘pray in the Spirit’ and also as we overflow with thanksgiving. So let’s get building day by day, and make sure that we are ready and strong in the storms of life, if and when they come.