This is an unusual day and time. Complex family situations have resulted in a shortage of direction and instruction in many areas. Christians are oblivious to accept the responsibility for everyone we can possibly assist with exhortation. Think about your response to the following real-life situations.
A young man who is a new Christian has recently been missing a lot of church. His changed work schedule makes it necessary to rest at church time. As a mature Christian, you have noticed his repeated absences and are concerned. What should you do?
A young couple loves the Lord Jesus. There are problems in their relationship. They have both made serious mistakes that have affected their marriage. It is easy to sense the tension between the two. How could you possibly help them?
The answer in each case- Exhortation!!
Hebrews 3:12-13 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called to day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Exhortation is an idea that most know little about. The particular Greek word used in Hebrews 3:13 is parakaleo. Parakaleo means to call to a person. It denotes (a) to call or entreat, (b) to admonish, exhort or urge one to pursue some course of conduct. It attempts to correct the direction of a course before there are damaging results.
Exhortation is taking action for preventing error. Exhorters seek to provide positive direction for the future. More than encouraging the down trodden, it is admonishing a particular course of action, while one still has the opportunity to make a right decision. Teachers are exhorting when they present positive options for living righteously. Notice – this is not correcting error in the sense of discipline, but giving input before the mistake is a locked-in pattern of conduct.
It is important to note that, if you are a pastor or in a leadership role, we should not play favorites when it comes to exhorting. I have another blog written on No-Favoritism-The Science of Shepherding that depicts how to keep from always going to the same people and having a somewhat “favorite” person or group of persons. Under no circumstances should a pastor have a “favorite” group.
Exhortation is something that should not be procrastinated. When someone is going through a difficult time, hours may be crucial. The Book of Hebrews said to exhort daily, while it is called today.
Exhortation in Evangelism
Additionally the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost, urges the people to follow through.
“And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40).
“Repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and receive the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38)
They were part of a generation that was untoward (lacking direction). Exhortation moves one in a sure direction. Acts 2 records that 3,000 followed Peter’s instructions. All evangelism encourages the unsaved to take positive action. Those actions lead to a changed life.
In route to Rome Paul experienced a shipwreck. He counseled,
“And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship” (Acts 27:22).
In the face of gray skies, turbulent seas, and threatening rocks Paul exhorted sailors and passengers to be cheerful. Paul had a word from God that assured the future. Daily exhorters keep reminding other people to look past the uncertainties of today. Exhortation includes the idea of encouragement. In speaking of helping people change
Gary Smalley said, “Change is always slow to take root, but it can grow ten times faster in the soil of encouragement than in the hard, rocky soil of criticism.”
Christians have perspectives that are heavenly rather than earthly. Sometimes people must be encouraged to see through eyes of faith. This calls for one to speak faith rather than fear. Such a perspective helps to lift others from their despair.
In what ways have you “exhorted” your saints or perhaps even a friend or family member? Your ideas may help someone else start exhorting someone in need, so please share!
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