By Lori Gardner
Have you ever read the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff? One of the characters is an ugly troll that lives under a bridge. He was an anti-social, somewhat stupid creature that lived to prey upon all that passed his way.
For the last few years we have seen the rise of real life trolls that fit this same description. These are people who hide behind the anonymity of their keyboard. They post inflammatory things online in order to start arguments, disrupt discussions, and provoke people into an emotional response. Their primary goal is to promote fear, uncertainty, doubt, or anger. Their tactics have been so successful that some news agencies actually post warnings on their websites that say, “Don’t feed the trolls.”
Unfortunately, the internet is not the only place we see this behavior. It is commonplace to publicly criticize, tear down, and provoke others for fun and entertainment. We might expect this behavior from an unbelieving world, but shouldn’t the Body of Christ be different?
So, what’s the Biblical opposite of being a troll? The Apostle Paul had to deal with all types of discord throughout his entire ministry. He wrote, “Let us, therefore, follow after the things which make for peace, and things with which one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19). The word “edify” is related to architecture, or house building. Throughout Paul’s epistles he writes that we should build others up, not tear them down.
Edifying one another is much more than being nice in each other’s company. It is following what Philippians 2:3 says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” We build up our fellow members of the Body of Christ by being spiritually mature and promoting spiritual growth in others through word and example.
When interacting with unbelievers we should strive to be kind and considerate because we are called to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). We should certainly behave that way toward our fellow believers, for we are “one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:5).
We should have an attitude of edification about us, building each other up through Bible study, prayer, fellowship and service together.
God gives each of His children responsibilities. One of the things we are instructed to do is guard our words (Psalm 141:3, Col. 4:6). Whatever comes from our mouth or our keyboards should build up and never destroy.
“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.” (Eph. 4:29)