It’s a lot easier to destroy things than to build them. That imbalance creates one of the conundrums of life: you can spend an awfully lot of time and energy creating something which can be demolished with very little effort.
“Destroy this temple,” said Jesus, “and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). This declaration was shocking and memorable. Years later, at His trial for blasphemy, a witness misquoted Him as saying, “I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days” (Matthew 26:61; see also Mark 14:58). John tells us that Jesus wasn’t actually talking about the building in Jerusalem but about “the temple of his body” (John 2:21). One thing is clear: the Savior was focused on building and on rebuilding things which other people had destroyed.
The apostle Paul encouraged us to build each other up, not to tear each other down. To church members in Rome, he wrote, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19). And he advised the saints in Thessalonica, “Comfort yourselves together, and edify one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
The word “edify” in these passages is a translation of the Greek word oikodomeó (οἰκοδομέω), which means literally to build a house. Over time, the term has taken on a less literal meaning in English, and typically means to improve or strengthen another person morally or intellectually.
King Benjamin likewise urged his people to strengthen one another:
Ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably….
Ye will teach [your children] to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.Mosiah 4:13, 15
To church members gathered at Winter Quarters in 1846 and in the middle of a long and difficult journey, the Lord said, “Let your words tend to edifying one another” (Doctrine and Covenants 136:24). The migration would be hard enough even if they chose to be kind and helpful to one another. Taking out their frustrations on each other would only make it harder.
Today, I will be careful as I interact with other people. I will choose words and actions which build and strengthen others and avoid words and actions which harm or discourage them.