Last week, as we looked at the gift of teaching, I believe we all had different people come to mind that we would say they have that gift. I can think of several myself, including my dad, my grandmother, a Sunday School teacher I had as a boy and more recently a previous pastor who stills remains a friend and a mentor. It is a very special gift and when used wisely can result in many folks learning more truth from God’s Word and growing spiritually in their walk with Him. However, as I have done in the past, I remind those who have that gift to be sure it is used for the edification of the church and to the glory of God.
This evening we are going to take a look at the another one of the seven motivational gifts shown in the list that follows this paragraph. That is the gift of exhortation. We are living in a time that the exercising of this gift by those who possess it is of extreme importance. Many churches and believers are in need of encouragement and what better way than one with the gift of exhortation use their gift to do that very thing. We all have seen the dramatic changes that have taken place in our world in the last few decades and when we dwell on how far from God and His Word we have strayed we begin to think there is no hope for any changes for the better to occur. But a person with the gift of exhortation has a different opinion on the matter. They believe that God can change anything, anytime, for anyone, anywhere if He so chooses and what a great perspective to have.
- Exhortation ***
Now let’s take a closer look at the individual blessed with the gift of exhortation. The basic motivational drive of the exhorter is to encourage believers to mature in Christ and grow spiritually. They do this by teaching, counseling and discipling others. The following are some of the general characteristics the exhorter exhibits as they use their gift.
- They regard trials as opportunities for spiritual growth.
- They see the pain of a hurting believer through the lens of God’s soverignty, not the lens of suffering.
- Making themselves available is their way of expressing love for others.
- They prefer to offer spiritual help instead of meeting one’s physical need.
- They provide wise counsel from the heart because that are skillful in identifying precepts and principles in God’s Word.
- They give hope by sharing a Bib;lical perspective of a situation and remind those affected of God’s love, power and faithfulness.
- They provide specific steps of action when responding to a problem.
Like all of those with other gifts, one with the gift of exhortation has numerous strengths that helps him use his gift as God intended. They use Scripture to validate experience but at the same time are eager and willing to come along side a brother or sister in Christ to help during difficult situations. They memorize and meditate on Scripture because they want to readily draw wisdom from God’s truth when it is needed. They see every detail as part of God’s loving plan and because they trials in a postive light they constantly remind others of God’s sovereignty and love. They stay balanced, avoid extremes in doctrine and have the ability to give thanks in all seasons and circumstances.
The exhorter can also have certain weaknesses in addition to the strengths we see above. They desire visible evidences of acceptance and affirmation. Sometimes they over simplify solutions which can lead to discouragement instead of the encouragement that is needed. They are excellent coundselors but can be poor listeners because they want a person to view their situation from God’s perspective and they overlook the individual’s perspective. They give wise counsel from the Word of God and as it proves effective they are tempted to promote principles as formulas that they see as cure-alls. They are often naive and easily manipulated and sometimes quote Scripture out of context to try to make it fit a situation. This is because of their strong desire to have Scripture provide the successful steps to solving the problem.
With all things considered the church would be in dire straits if there were no exhorters in their midst. This gift has a special place today as mentioned before and I encourage those of you with this gift to make every effort to use it on a regular basis. I know that I for one am always in need of encouragement from another Christian and when the gift is used it becomes another means by which iron sharpens iron and spiritual growth occurs. And again, to God be the glory!
Next week we will move to the next gift in our list, giving. I hope that our study thus far has made a difference in someone’s life because they have recognized the gift they have and have begun to purposely exercise it when the opportunity arises. I truly believe this is what God intends for us to do. Keep looking for those opportunites, use your gift and sevice to others will be the result. And again, remember to thank God for all He has done and continues to do. He is worthy of all honor and praise!
“What if you woke up today with only those things you thanked God for yesterday?”