May 24, 2005
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them; if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation…
George Pruitt once told a story of a fireman in Oklahoma City who had climbed up a ladder into a burning building to save a baby. He began to make his way back down the ladder with the child in his arms, and it seemed as if the flames were about to overcome him. His mission was on the verge of failing.
When the fire chief saw the fireman struggling, he turned to the other firemen and said, “Cheer him on boys! Cheer him on!” The firemen began to cheer their companion on, and he successfully made his way down the ladder bringing the baby to safety.
So many people need to be cheered on and encouraged in the same way. And it doesn’t just have to come from the church pulpit or choir loft. It comes from the private ministry of believers like you. In fact, there is a motivational gift that some of you may have to encourage and exhort others in their spiritual walk.
If I could give you a working definition of the gift of exhortation, I would suggest that this gift is the supernatural, Spirit-given ability of members to minister through words and actions in comforting, encouraging, challenging, and counseling. The word “exhortation” comes from the Greek word parakaleo. It means “one who is called alongside to help.” In John 14:15, Jesus used this very word to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who is also called “The Helper.”
The Bible also talks of Barnabas in Acts 11, otherwise known as the son of encouragement. He was sent out to Jerusalem to check out the news of many who had turned to the Lord. “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:23).
God has given some of you that special ability to seek out people and offer a hand of fellowship. It was Barnabas who did just this. If you are an exhorter and have this gift, then people are likely to share with you their innermost problems, hurts, and feelings, and they will enjoy your company because you can cheer them up. If you have this gift, people need you to bring about hope, healing, and hospitality.
EXHORTATION IS THE GOD-GIVEN ABILITY TO ENCOURAGE
OTHER BELIEVERS IN THE ADVANCEMENT OF THEIR SPIRITUAL LIVES.