Are you an Exhorter?
Exhortation is defined as “an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something” or per the glossary in my ESV Bible, “A message encouraging someone to follow a particular course of action or to submit to a different way of thinking.” Paul the apostle instructs Timothy saying, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching”(1 Timothy 4:13). The word “exhort” or “exhortation” comes from the Greek word Paraklésis, which means to call to one’s side, to call for, to summon, encourage, and to admonish. To exhort is to develop relationships with others for the purpose of helping them grow spiritually. If we are not revealing God to others, we are not being exhorters. Part of Timothy's job was to encourage and admonish those that were a part of the flock. In Hebrews 3:13, it says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ unless that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Also, in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul speaks to the church in Thessalonica saying, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Our job and duty as Christians is to encourage and build one another up. We should take advantage of each and every chance we have to do our duty and make the best of it.
There are three things every believer should be doing for others; we should be edifying others, encouraging others, and EXHORTING others. Exhortation is one of the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8, in paraphrasing, “We have gifts that differ from others, according to the grace given to us. We should use our gifts in service, in our serving; and the one who teaches, in his teaching. Each of us is to exercise our gifts appropriately and correspondingly… He who exhorts, in his exhortation.” The gift of exhortation is a unique gift that is given to a person by God, and it gives them the ability to encourage and edify others. People who have this ability should delight in teaching others about the word of God and should teach others how to apply the situations taught in the Bible. Exhorters should value face to face time with others and should be involved in teaching, discipline, and even counseling. We see these attributes in evangelists and also elders, which shepherd over the flock. We must each strive to increase whatever talent we have as an exhorter. As exhorters we should seek out those diminishing in their faith and encourage them, even confronting them if needed. Regardless of the particular talent we might have, all Christians should desire to become better at exhortation and to build up the weak, encourage those who lead and strengthen the body of Christ as a whole. As it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” When we practice this we are comforted and can then even pass it along to help others (2 Corinthians 1:4).
A big struggle we may face is time. A lot of us are constantly busy, working many hours, busy with school, busy with homework, etc... It can be a big challenge to make sure these things are secondary to God so we must make sure to study His word and get to know Him better. The tremendous thing that we need to realize is this, being an Exhorter and just being a child of God, gives us wonderful opportunities to impact many lives that surround us with the Word of God. Some of us may be shy, but we need to push ourselves to get out of the comfort zone and do our Christian duty. The more we talk with others, it gets easier! James tells us in James 1:22, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Not only do we need to listen to God’s word, but take action and do what He tells us. Romans 2:13 clarifies this, “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” Look at Paul and Moses for examples. These two men are perfect examples of exhorters. God took them through desert regions and many seasons of trials. While during these times I'm sure they felt alone, maybe even abandoned, but they learned to trust what God had in store for them, and to be joyous in what God had called them to do. Sometimes you can find yourself stuck in a desert season, so pray to God and ask for His guidance and then seek His counsel in the word. He will show what He wants you to be. The Lord will answer our prayers if we have faith, as shown in Matthew 21:22,”And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” So in conclusion I ask again, are you an Exhorter? Do you exhort others within the church and outside of the church? We need to be uplifting, esteeming, edifying, encouraging, and for certain, exhorting one another. Every single person is important and critical for the body of Christ to work well and effective. What is your gift? Are you using it to glorify God? Are you nurturing others up in the admonition of the Lord?