Exhort is a word that’s rarely used in modern conversation. I don’t share a story on Facebook or with my friend about how I was just exhorting someone, if I did this, I would likely be met with some very strange looks. But this is a word that was used in the Bible; Paul and his contemporaries were consistently admonishing the early church to exhort one another.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary exhort means:
to incite by argument or advice : urge strongly
to give warnings or advice : make urgent appeals
In my mind, exhorting is like encouragement 2.0 or encouragement on steroids. Exhortation takes things to a whole new level of urgency and importance.
The apostles knew the urgency of the message they were proclaiming. They had walked with Jesus and seen God in the flesh; they knew the salvation he made possible and they were going to do everything in their power to spread the truth of him to the world! There was a sense of urgency in their message because they knew the severity of the situation: life or death, heaven or hell, eternal joy or eternal torment. They knew that there was an entire world out there perishing and they called their followers to live a life fully devoted to Christ with the mission of bringing others to him!
“For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV)
This particular passage intrigues me because it brings a whole new perspective on this concept of exhorting: it comes from a place of authority. Parents give their children instruction, wisdom, and advice, they are tasked with exhorting their children. Paul and his companions took on that mantle and exhorted those they were leading, urging them to live the full life God called them to.
If you’re alive, you are a voice of influence in the lives of those around you. You might be leading your family or your children, a small group, a classroom, a team at work, or your friend group. No matter your stage in life, you have influence, so my question is: what’s the state of your exhortation game? What strong, urgent warnings are you giving to those around you? Have you made it a habit to exhort people to love and good deeds? Do you exhort them consistently to pursue Christ with their entire being?
Let’s be exhorters of our community, uplifting, encouraging, urging, and challenging them.
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