“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Called to Build, by Randall D. Kittle

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In the fourteenth chapter of Luke, Jesus tells the listening crowd the requirements for being His disciple: “If anyone comes after Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple … So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26–33).

Jesus saw the faces of the wishful crowd turn from delightful dedication to disappointed disbelief. And so He explained to His disillusioned followers the reason for the severity of His terms. He said,
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:28–31).

Counting The Cost
By this Jesus did not mean that His followers were to count the cost. He never told men to count the cost of following Him. This is a fallacy we have introduced into the gospel. Jesus told His followers they were to come after Him without counting the cost — they were to come at all costs.

Then what did Jesus mean by these two questions? Jesus meant that
He had to count the cost. He is the builder. He is the king. He was appealing to these men and women who were hushed into silence and subdued by great fear at the harshness of His terms to put themselves in His place. It was as though He had said to them: “You are protesting against the severity of My terms. Do you not understand Me? If you were going to build a tower wouldn’t you first determine the cost? Supposing you were in My place, which of you, as a king going to war, would not be concerned with the quality of your soldiers?” Jesus’ terms are severe because He wants men and women as disciples who will stand by His side until the building is done and the battle is won.

Our Mission
In this we discover the call of a disciple. Disciples are called to do is two things. They are called to build and to battle. Six months before this, when Peter made his great confession that Christ was the Son of the living God, Jesus said to him, “On this rock I will build My church” — building — “and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” — battle.

Though we may not have thought of it in those terms, this is consistent with the whole Biblical revelation. If we stand back and look at the larger picture, we will find that the whole story of the Bible is the story of God in human history building and in battle. The Bible opens in a garden. Where does it end? In a city — the new Jerusalem. The Bible is the story of God’s process from the garden to the city. Only God can build this city, and all the way fighting is necessary, fighting against the forces that prevent or postpone the building of the city. In other words, the mission of Christ is shown to be
constructive and destructive. He presented them in that order, and it is very important that we know that the constructive is the ultimate purpose of God, but the destructive is necessary in the process. He came into the world for building, and because there are forces that come against the building He battles. The great passion of God’s heart is the building, but the present necessity of the mission is the battle. If you are going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are called to build — to have a tool in your hand, and you are called to be a soldier—to have a sword in your other hand.

Equipped For Building
As I look around the Church, I see a lot more swords in people’s hands than I do tools. I see a lot more weaponry in the body of Christ than I do power tools. Soldiers everywhere ready to enter any spiritual battle. But Jesus is declaring “I want disciples to first build, and then I want them to battle!” We are supposed to be building things up. This is not only God’s character, He has equipped us to do so.

The Scriptures tell us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts.
“But earnestly desire the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31), and “… earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1). But why are we encouraged to be eager for spiritual gifts, to seek after them, and hunger for them? For what purpose? Is it so others will say “Look, what a cool gift they’ve got?” Are the spiritual gifts just so people will notice and think we are mature believers? No, the purpose of the spiritual gifts is to build up the body Christ. “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel” (1 Corinthians 14:12).

Often we use words in the Church that are seldom used anywhere else and therefore they have little meaning. Edification is one of these words. How many of us use this word in our daily conversations? How often do you come across it in a newspaper article? The word translated “edification” literally means: “to construct, to build, to build up.” So what are the gifts for…to build up! We are called as disciples to zealously run after and pursue spiritual gifts, and then use them to build up the body of Christ.

Planting, Not Just Plowing
My wife and I just finished building a new house. One of the sad things about building is that after you have spent all that time looking for the perfect piece of land, they come in with their bulldozer and knock over the trees and dig up the bushes (the ones that made the land look so wonderful to begin with), and leave piles of dirt everywhere. Then the process pauses and all you have is a big hole. When they built our house, they spent about two weeks getting the hole dug, and then spent months doing the rest of the work. Building is a positive thing. There is a little destruction that happens as you begin, but most the time is spent on construction.

I am glad to tell you that the building of our house didn’t stop with just a hole in the ground. They poured the foundation, framed it up, put on the roof, and step by step moved forward (sometimes painstakingly slowly) until it was finished. To be builders we must build, not just tear down. Every farmer will tell you that the plowing is necessary. But plowing without planting is fruitless!

Looking behind my new house this fall, I marveled at nearly half an acre without one weed. Most of us would love a backyard without any weeds, but in this case there was one big problem. There was also not one blade of grass … no trees … no bushes. It was nothing but dirt. I thought of how often this happens in the body of Christ. We look at the gardens of our hearts and we carefully pull out all the weeds, and rejoice “Lord, there’s not one weed left. I’ve been searching my heart, and pulling out everything that is not of You.” But the Lord would inquire, “What have you been planting?” God expects us to be planters. He expects us to plant things in our hearts and in the lives of others. God wants us to be planting, not just weeding.

The house I grew up in back in the 60’s had a snack bar. The snack bar was the room next to our downstairs family room where we had a refrigerator, a stove, and some cupboards for food. That way we didn’t have to go up to the kitchen every time we wanted a little something to eat. My dad decided to change the entrance to the snack bar from the family room to the rec room. To do this he had to tear down the wall in the rec room and build one in the family room. So he drew a great big rectangle over the place where he wanted the doorway to be, and called in the world’s greatest demolition team: Kittle 1, Kittle 2, and Kittle 3 — the three Kittle boys. He had seen us in action before, and we were really good at destruction. We had hammers, saws, sledgehammers, and crowbars, and we had a lot of fun! We lit into that wall and destroyed it in no time flat. When my father decided to start building the new wall and finishing off the opening we had made, however, he did not call the three Kittle boys. You see, he knew we had no abilities to build — just destroy.

Unfortunately, some of us in the body of Christ have become like that, we are really good at tearing down and destroying things, but not very good at building. God is saying “Become like me! Build, strengthen, bless others!”

God’s Power Tool
We have not been given many tools to build God’s kingdom. Our intellect is not going to do a lot for us, and we cannot rely on our ability to speak eloquently either. So what is the “power tool” God has designed to build the kingdom of God? It is our tongues speaking forth words of life.

Your tongue is the most powerful tool you have. James speaks about this in the first ten verse of chapter three.
“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2). This verse is very powerful. It says if we never falter in the words we speak we really have our walk with Jesus going in the right direction. When we are able to guard the words we speak, we are being disciples of Jesus; reflecting the life of Christ to others.

Continuing in verse three:
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:3–10).

This account gives an accurate portrayal of mankind’s struggle with our ability to control our tongues. When we decide in our own ability we are not going to speak anything negative, to be positive and believe and say the best, we will fail. No man can do this — only God. God alone can control our tongues. Our tongues must be given over to Him. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can our tongues be controlled. If you ask the Holy Spirit to, He can stop your tongue when you are about to speak something, and say to your heart “Is that really what you want to say,” and give you the chance to say “no.”

Out Of Darkness
Every time we say something negative about somebody we are making it a little darker, a little dimmer. We are speaking forth death over that person, over the church they are a part of, and over the Church in that city. When we fail to guard our tongues and speak words that cut and tear down, we cause darkness to come forth. We are not called to walk in darkness, but to walk in the light — to be children of the light. As we speak forth words of hope and faith and love, we will become shining lights dispelling the darkness.

This doesn’t mean that you can never say anything that sounds negative. If you see something in your spouse that needs to be addressed, and you can share it in a spirit of love, go ahead and share it. If you are in an accountable relationship with someone and you feel you should exhort them to change something you see, great! It is not that you can never say anything that sounds negative, but we have got to begin building up and quit tearing down if we are going to advance the kingdom of God.

There are people who are called to speak negative things. The Scriptures say there are two groups of people that will be speaking things that will be deemed to be negative: one group are prophets, and the other group are elders. First of all there are prophets. Although there are a lot of people in the Church with prophetic gifts — who move in gifts of revelation, there are not many prophets — those truly called to operate in the office of a prophet. A prophet does break things down, that is one of his callings.
“Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant’” (Jeremiah 1:9–10). Notice when a prophet tears down and destroys that the purpose is to rebuild and to plant. It is not a tearing down for tearing down’s sake. It is a tearing down for building up.

The other people who sometimes say things deemed negative are elders. This is because elders are called to guard the flock from false teaching and to reprove false doctrine. In Acts 20 Paul warns the elders of Ephesus that
“savage wolves” will come in among them, and he encourages them to keep watch over themselves and the flock. Titus 1:9 says of an elder, “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Notice that this verse first says elders should know the Scriptures to encourage others. So first is the positive, and then there is a coming against faulty doctrines and false teachings. Negative words will be spoken by elders to bring correction, but this needs to be done in a spirit of love and gentleness, not in haughtiness nor by tearing others down.

The Gift of Discernment
When we are told to guard our mouths and bridle our tongues, one of things we do is excuse our actions under the cloak of “discernment.” We often respond, “but I have the gift of discernment.” That’s a convenient reply, which only begs the question: where did you get it? It’s not in the Bible. We do find the gift of discerning of spirits mentioned in the Scriptures, but no gift of discernment. The gift of discerning of spirits means you supernaturally know the motivating spirit behind something. For example, someone might be involved in some activity, even something that seems good, and you realize that they are doing this because of a spirit of lust or out of their own spirit of greed.

Unfortunately, most of what is referred to under “the gift of discernment” is really a different spiritual gift … the “gift of suspicion.” The gift of suspicion is a spiritual gift. It is given by a spirit. The spirit just happens not be the Holy Spirit, but an evil spirit. The gift of suspicion causes us to believe the worst and perceive others through our hurts, wounds, and warps.

The word discernment is not even found in NIV translation of the New Testament. If we look at the New King James translation it is found in one verse. Since so many believers feel they have the gift of discernment, let’s look at this verse.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9–10). When we hear someone share their discernment, how many of us have heard anything that even remotely resembles this: “pray that your love may abound … approve things that are excellent”?

Let’s say you do have some inklings on something, and they are troubling you. What are you to do? The first thing for you to do is pray for that person. Pray is spelled P-R-A-Y. Sometimes in the body of Christ we have a tendency to spell it P-R-E-Y. We get together and share how we feel about someone … our suspicions … we “prey” on them. When you are praying for someone remember the Lord has not instructed you to invite other people. “I’m sharing this so you can pray.” That is gossip — not God. If God wants others to pray for them He can speak to them Himself.

It doesn’t take a lot of discernment to see something wrong with any groups of believers. I am not real impressed with that and I am certain God isn’t either. It does not build up the body of Christ. The fact that you can discern there is something wrong in a church doesn’t take a supernatural gift. You could bring in a one-eyed, partially sighted heathen and he could look around and see there are things wrong.

Feeling Lead
Another reason we say things we shouldn’t is because we feel “led to share.” I think a lot of us have felt your “lead.” Let me share something the Lord showed me to help us understand how hurtful this can be.

While I was praying I saw a vision of a big shotgun that had been all cleaned out. Then I heard, “reload … reload,” and there were shotgun shells being put into it. Then I heard a shot and saw a bullet going into a believer. It was very graphic. The bullet pierced through him ripping his flesh open and causing blood to spill out. Then I heard another shot fire, and saw another bullet cutting through him. When I saw it this time I also heard someone speaking words, and realized that what people were saying about this man were causing the bullet wounds. These word were not just hurting his feelings, they were ripping him apart!

During the middle of the 1800s, Galena, Illinois was a boom town. Lots of people made great fortunes. What brought such large sums of money into Galena in the mid-1800s? It was the lead mines. They dug lead out of the hills surrounding Galena. Lead was so profitable because there was shortage of it. This lead shortage was caused by the Civil War. After the Civil War broke out both sides needed lead to make bullets. And so as brother fought against brother, family members shooting each other, the miners and mine owners of Galena raked in the money.

The body of Christ does the same thing today. We have been shooting at each other instead of blessing each other. Instead of exhorting and building each other up, the things we say and do rip and tear at others. Some of us have profited because of our quick wits and sharp tongues. As we speak witty words that wound our brothers, others are impressed with our wisdom and discernment. Some people have been mining the lead to give to others. They don’t shoot, they just dig it up and hand it to some one else.

But this is not what God wants for us. We have a choice of what to do and how to do it, and God is calling us to change our choices and allow him to come in and speak through us the words that we should speak.

We are not suppose to be shooting at each other nor profiting when others do. We are supposed to come together in a spirit of unity. The Bible tells us that there is a commanded blessing when brothers dwell together in unity.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! … For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore” (Psalm 133:1–3). God is calling the children of His household to dwell together with words of kindness, love, and encouragement.

Speaking From A Softened Heart
The tongue is a powerful thing. It can be a fire that burns and harms and wrecks things, or it can be a confession that builds and strengthens. It can give a prayer of intercession that lifts up, or an exhortation that lets somebody know they are on the right track and encourages them to go forward.

We must stop sharpening our tongues, and start softening our hearts. Oh Lord, give us the spirit of repentance which only comes from the Holy Spirit. Forgive us where we have profited from quickly tearing down others, and help us to be formed and fashioned into the image of Jesus Christ. Empower our tongues to buildup and bless and help bring unity, that we might build Your kingdom.


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