Have you ever heard either of these expressions?
That made me feel ten feet tall.
That made me feel about two inches tall.
Which expression promotes a confident and positive attitude? It's the first one, right?
The first expression builds you up taller than you really are. It encourages you. The second one tears you down.
Knowledge of God's Word and His love for us give us the boldness to walk with confidence. It builds us up. When something is "built up," it is "edified." God wants us to be edified, and He wants us to edify others. The body of Christ will continue to need building up until Christ returns.
Romans 14:19 says "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." In the context, this is talking about believers judging others in matters that have nothing directly to do with right believing. Our responsibility is to be sure that the things we do in our own lives glorify God. This promotes peace and puts the emphasis where it should be: "For the kingdom of God is not meat or drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17)
Just a few verses later, Romans 15:1 and 2 say "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification." People are built up as we use our strengths to strengthen them, not by bragging about how strong we are.
While we can edify ourselves by speaking in tongues, we can edify the church by prophesying. "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church." (I Corinthians 14:4) We are able to do this because words of prophesy edify, exhort, and comfort.
Furthermore I Corinthians 14:12 says "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church." To become excellent at edifying the church, should be a top priority of those who are passionately hungry for spiritual things.
As individuals we are edified through God's Word and by speaking in tongues; but as the body of Christ we have been given apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Ephesians 4:12-16. The emphasis here is that we are members of one body that is being edified. And it takes each one of us doing our best to contribute to the edification of the one body.
While the verses above are directed toward ministries in the Body, this verse is directed toward all: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." (Ephesians 4:29) Our words can minister grace, the same unearned divine favor that we enjoy. We can carefully select our words to build people up.
The final reference to "edifying" in the church epistles is found in I Thessalonians 5:11. It says "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." Its context, not surprisingly, is that we remember to comfort one another in the knowledge of our Hope in the return of Christ and our gathering together. At that time the body of Christ will be completely edified.
Looking at one more verse, I Timothy 1:4 lines up nicely with our opening verses in Romans. It reminds us to concentrate on matters of sound doctrine and to ignore vain and pointless discussions that do not promote peace. "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do."
We have been called a stand together in one body. Get busy building it up.