Spiritual Gifts, pt. 4
Have you ever left the presence of a person, and as you walk away you say, O, how thankful I am for that person! Just by being around them, you find yourself challenged in a very good way/wanting to be closer to Christ/give up that habit/feel encouraged/determined to keep on, not quit/feel energized/burden lifted.
Exhortation—The special ability to motivate people to serve God.
These are the church cheerleaders/motivators
This encompasses: advising/counseling/encouraging/strengthening/comforting.
Common gift, and much needed, because:
The prophet proclaims the truth/teacher explains/but the exhorter motivates you to obey the truth!
The exhorter takes the truth of God and puts shoe leather to it. If not for the gift of exhortation, we would have heads full of Bible knowledge, but no outward fruit (result).
The exhorter motivates us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only/get up off of our knees when done praying, and put feet to our prayers! (hope those at altar Sunday take action!)/cause the overly cautious to take a risk, launch out into the deep, attempt great things for God!
The exhorter has the ability to comfort the afflicted, AND to afflict the comfortable!
This gift is more needed in the 21st century than ever before…for this is the Laodicean church age, of lukewarm Christianity. Believers today, for the most part, are more concerned w/ their personal comfort than personal convictions! It’s convenience-based Christianity: people don’t want to be put out!
Exhorters help us stay out of our comfort zones, and stay busy affecting eternity/challenge us to go to the next level/never satisfied!/likes song: “I’m pressing on the upward way”/will challenge you to increase in areas of devotion, sacrifice, holiness/dig deeper, climb higher, run faster, continue longer.
The exhorter says, you can do it, and then they come along beside you and help you do it!
They make a wonderful counselor, discipler, altar worker. Good at hospital visitation/shut-ins/nursing home
Ill.— hospital visitation/true story/lady visited woman, and said, “My aunt had these same symptoms…she died, but I’m sure they’ll be able to help you!” (No exhortation in that!)
Classic example of an exhorter: The Apostle Paul
He uses the words exhort, or exhortation, over and over in his writings.
II Tim. 4:2
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
I Tim. 4:13
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee…
Qualities of an exhorter:
1.Jumps at chance to express themselves
v. 13-16 Just have a testimony service if you want to see where your exhorters are sitting, they’ll be the first to rise, while others are still debating. They express themselves at the drop of a hat. They have a bubbling enthusiasm talking about the Lord. They’re often accused of being too talkative/dominating a discussion/constantly wanting to chime in their opinion. (Gift of gab) This can be a liability…we’ll talk about that later.
Paul and Barnabas traveled together, but, have you noticed, Barnabas hardly ever got to say a word?!
2.Very expressive when they speak
v. 16 If you tied my wives hands together, she wouldn’t be able to talk! Even on the phone, when they can’t see her hands!
3.When they speak, people listen
Certain magnetism about them/people are drawn to their words
In v. 17-41, Paul tells them several Bible stories as illustrations…then…
v. 42-43 Us next!
v. 44 People come out in great numbers to hear an exhorter.
4.Takes scripture and applies it in a practical way.
After Paul goes thru all these Bible stories, he’s not content to leave it at that.
Delivered from Egypt? So what?/wandering in wilderness/period of judges and kings…so what?
v. 38-40 He makes it practical. They need to do 2 things: Believe, and beware!
He’s not content just preaching to the head/or even the heart/but to the hand! He wants them to respond to the message, to do something, to have a change of their will, to decide to react properly! To come to the altar and make a REAL decision!
For this reason, the exhorter has little tolerance for teaching that is not practical, but all doctrinal. They’re sitting there hearing that teaching, frustrated, thinking of steps of action to make it happen!
They’re pragmatic. When called upon to teach a lesson, it will sound something like: 10 ways to overcome worry, etc. Even if they’re telling you how to fix your faucet, it will be a detailed, step by step process, clearly thought out. Or, “3 ways to lose weight, without hunger or exercise!”
5.Very confident, not easily discouraged
By far, this is their greatest asset. You just can’t get them down!
Example of Paul, the Exhorter:
How Paul responded to discouraging circumstances:
v. 45 He’s being criticized, spoken against (it will happen if you do something big for God…someone will try to throw cold water on it, add a little balance to your life, get you off of that high horse!).
What could be more discouraging than that…to try to help someone and be criticized for it!
How did Paul respond? Run? Quit? You all just don’t appreciate me? Resign?
v. 46 They responded w/ greater perseverance and greater boldness! Paul said, oh, you don’t like what I just said…well try this on for size!
v. 50 I know several preachers who were kicked out of their church, but kicked out of the country?! How discouraging!
v. 51-52 Responded w/ more boldness, more perseverance…took it to someone else who would listen…w/ joy!
14:19 Would you be discouraged?
Gotta get a better job!/They didn’t tell me this in seminary!
v. 20 What does it take to make you quit? It doesn’t take much these days to make a Christian get mad and leave the church. Some are looking for a problem…they’ll find it! (doesn’t mean we should not be careful, but should we walk on eggshells?) The test of character is what it takes to make you quit.
The exhorter’s greatest asset is it’s hard to discourage them!
6.Result oriented: takes delight in seeing growth in people’s lives
14:21-22 The exhorter is not satisfied when they see that person get saved, they want to see them grow, mature, make decisions, and make progress. (precisely why they make a great discipler) He wants to see that believer reach their fullest potential! The slogan of the army is the slogan of the exhorter: Be all that you can be!
The dangers: (potential liabilities of the exhorter, remember, Satan can take a positive gift and use it in a negative way)
1.Little tolerance for one who quits or fails
They are so willing to personally invest in the lives of others that when those others fail, the exhorter feels like they too, have failed. They take it personally/take responsibility.
Remember that John Mark went home in the middle of their first missionary journey…here’s the 2nd:
15:36-40 church split here/exhorter didn’t want the quitter to come along
Paul later regretted this (I Tim. 4: bring John Mark, he IS profitable…) He realized he was too hard on him, and too hard on himself when John Mark failed.
Exhorter: be patient w/ your protégé’s when they fail…for when they’re down is when they need you more than ever!
2.Emphasis on steps of action, which may lead to over-simplifying problems
When you talk to the exhorter about a problem, they always want to boil it all down to a formula…do this, and all will be ok!
The problem w/ that is that people are deeper than that. There’s not always a simple solution to every complex problem.
3.Tendency to give advice when it is not asked for.
Unasked for advice is seldom appreciated and never heeded! (many times resented)
But the exhorter sees someone’s problems and they want to do something about it…oftentimes even more than the person who HAS the problem. (but they have to decide they want help 1st! [lead a horse to water…]) They see someone w/ a bad marriage/raising kids wrong/blowing finances…and they are tempted to jump in uninvited.
4.Tendency to annoy people by being too talkative and overly enthusiastic.
A guy who always wanted to encourage me…even if I’m fine! “are you happy?”
Just because you have the gift of gab doesn’t mean everyone else has the gift of listening to you!
Thank God for you that have the wonderful gift of Exhortation. You are the life-blood of the body of Christ. You send cards to those who need it, you give compliments in a timely manner, you give the body of Christ a B-12 shot just w/ your presence…and you’re very good at reproducing yourself in others as your enthusiasm spreads like wildfire!
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