Since then, I've noticed something we sometimes do as Christians; we use words and assume their meanings are understood. Take the word “exhortation,” for example. It was not until recently that I fully understood it’s meaning. Before then, I used it anyway. Did the people I used it with know what it meant, either?
Exhortation means encouragement, but it's encouragement
“with a punch.” It's urging and advising.
Why does the King James Version tell us to “exhort” one another? Why is it so important? The two verses below tell us that fellowship in which we build one another up, encourage one another, urge and advise one another keeps us from becoming hardened to the “deceitfulness of sin.
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” -Hebrews 3:13
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” -Hebrews 10:25
If you are an exhorter, then you have been given more than a knack for it. You may have eyes to see the discouraged when others don’t; you may have an anointing to know what to say and when and how to say it; you may have a grace that puts people at ease to receive what you are saying. It's one of your gifts, and if you were called to exercise it yesterday, you are even more called to do today.
May I, my brother and sisters in Christ, exhort you to consider that your time to use this gift generously has come? Even if this is not a special gift given to all of us, all of us are still called to practice it, with intention and compassion because “the day” is approaching. We need one another. Someone is depending of each of us to be the exhorter in his or her life on any given day. Encourage, embolden, cheer and advice those around you. Urge one another in the ways of Jesus and remind them of His steadfastness and faithfulness. And may you, in turn, be exhorted.
21 Day Exhortation Challenge
- Your goal is to interact with at least one person a day for 21 days.
- The people that you approach should be brothers and sisters in Christ. Exhortation is to build up the body of Christ.
- You may plan who it is ahead of time, or watch throughout the day for opportunities (the Holy Spirit will lead as you ask Him to do so).
- You may simply ask the Holy Spirit how to exhort this person. It may be affirming that you see their gifts at use and you have been blessed by them, or you may offer to pray for them if they indicate the need. Your aim is to build them up in a sincere way.
- Try to pray for them that day or evening.
- The next time you see them, tell them that you have, if you have.
- Feel free to interact in person, by phone, by email, by text, by card, or in any other manner.
- Keep track of your encouragements. After 21 days you will see that this practice adds up and that you're making a difference.
- Be accountable to a friend. Share stories of your interactions.
- Remind yourself of this challenge. A string on your finger or post-it note, or whatever works. If you miss a day, don't give up. Pick up where you left off and go an extra day, or double up the next day by blessing two people instead of one.
Enjoy the journey. When you have completed the challenge, celebrate a new habit with a cup of coffee or tea (maybe even desert) with another brother or sister in Christ and share all that God did through your efforts. Then keep on encouraging one another! May God bless you, and may you find joy in serving Jesus in this way.