SPIRITUAL GIFTS: EXHORTATION

He who exhorts, in exhortation.
Romans 12:6-8
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; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
The gift of exhortation is a beautiful gift that is multifaceted. It is not as simple as one person encouraging another person (although that definitely applies). This initial understanding of exhortation is really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The more broad definition is when someone comes alongside someone else in need. Exhortation must not be limited to just our words, however, because our actions can often times have an even greater impact.

When someone possess the gift of exhortation, they see a person in genuine need of guidance and comfort and fully offer themselves up to help. This gift disdains disingenuous offers to help. This gift is willing to sacrifice to be beneficial to someone else. A wonderful example of this gift is seen in the life of Barnabas. Paul had no friends, everyone feared him and, therefore, rejected him, all except Barnabas, who loved him enough to stand by him when no one else would. If it wasn’t for Barnabas, or we could say, if it wasn’t for the gift of exhortation, I am confident that the Apostle Paul would have never realized his full potential in ministry.
 This gift is not just seen in the life of Barnabas, however. As is true of all the gifts, the greatest example is that of Christ. I think of the scenes when He goes to the outskirts of town to heal the man possessed by Legion. He stood by him when no one else would. How about the lepers that He was willing to connect with? He stood by them when no one else would. And the woman caught in the act of adultery? He stood (even stooped) by her when no one else would. What about when Jesus feasted with tax collectors and sinners? Again, the pattern and His actions continued. He stood by them when no religious leader would have ever been seen in their company.

 Although actions are paramount, there is no doubt that the most common way for this gift to be exercised is through words. Through encouraging words. When someone is struggling and stumbling, the gift of exhortation highlights the genuine positives that it sees in the one who is discouraged, it highlights the hope we have in Christ, it stays positive when all else is negative. Through cautionary words. An ignored aspect to this gift is the warning that it gives to those who are flirting with sin. The gift of exhortation encourages someone when they are down and alerts them to the dangers and pitfalls of sin. Through restorative words. When one is an outcast due to their former sin, the gift of exhortation refuses to camp out on their past and only points them to their glorious future in Christ. Praise God for this wonderful gift that helps others realize the hope they have in Our Father. It strengthens the weak, it warns the wanderer and it points all to our Savior!

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