Summary: This sermon is the sixth in a series of ten on Motivational Spiritual Gifts which communicates the characteristics of the gift of Exhortation in order to allow the Holy Spirit opportunity to reveal this gift to those who have it.
This year LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC released through Holman Bible Publishers the inaugural edition of the Holman Christian Standard Bible from which I read Romans 12:4-8 today . . . There are 7 heart Motive gifts listed here. That’s who you are! There are many Ministries, that’s what you do and the Manifestations are unlimited in the way God works through us. However, God created you with one focus, one mind, one heart. Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus...” Jesus was the perfect example of every one of the motivational heart gifts. But the Holy Spirit has given you one heart gift – God picks it, you don’t. There are many ministries in which you cooperate with the Lord Jesus and as you commit to Ministry through the Body of Christ there may be multiple Manifestations in which God may use you in His Kingdom work.
Today we come to the Gift of Exhortation. The exhorter is one who urges another to pursue a course of conduct. The Greek word is “paraklesis” which is the same word used for the Holy Spirit in the NT, “parakletos.” “Para” means to the side of and “klesis” means to call. So, the meaning is a calling to one’s side that is, to aide; one called alongside another, to encourage or admonish one to choose a particular pattern of life or to perform a particular act. It denotes both exhortation and encouragement. If the teacher aims for your head, the exhorter aims for your heart. And it’s not so much the content that the exhorter wants to impart, as to how that content can be made effective in people’s lives. All of the exhorters efforts are geared toward edifying and encouraging other people.
Now the person who personifies the profile of the Exhorter in the NT is Paul. If you’ll just look at the first 3 or 4 verses of every letter he wrote you’ll be encouraged. He says, “Oh, I love you, I miss you, I want to be with you, I’m praying for God’s grace and mercy for you. Paul was a great guy. And as for the guidelines for expressing the Exhorter heart Romans 12:12 says, “rejoice in hope; be patient in tribulation or affliction; be persistent in prayer.” The exhorter is always helping people have hope, the expectation and desire for things to get better, encouraging them to be thankful for and in all things for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Of course, in the difficulties, tribulations, trials and afflictions of life you encourage people to be patient, to wait on the Lord and to persevere allowing God to work out His desire, design and direction in your life. And finally, you come alongside in prayer to edify and encourage according to the Word of God. You must exhibit a constant readiness for prayer. Well, let’s look at the:
The Characteristics of the Gift of Exhortation
1. Committed to Spiritual Growth
The motivation of an exhorter is to see spiritual growth take place in every day living. In general they like to see things grow. They have a motivation to urge people to their full maturity in Christ. In fact, they’re willing to become personally involved to see it achieved. And one of the down sides to this involvement is an exhorter’s willingness to give people whatever time is necessary to help them grow spiritually and that often cuts into family time and personal responsibilities. So many times I keep others waiting on me because I’m still listening, talking and encouraging. Paul’s goal was to “present every man perfect (mature) in Christ.”
2. Visualizes Spiritual Achievement
An exhorter heart has the ability to visualize spiritual achievement for another Christian and then help them work out practical steps of action to achieve it. Their desire is to give precise steps of action in urging people toward spiritual maturity. That’s why outlines and notes are given on the screen and in handouts. That’s why copies of these characteristics are made available. A Christian who really means business with God ought not to come to church without a Bible, a pen and a piece of paper. If you really want to grow in the Lord you need to write some things down. When you get on your knees to pray you ought to have a Bible and a legal pad beside you. We should be open for God to teach us whenever He wants to teach us. A person with the gift of Exhortation is very intense on the fact you get down in your heart the steps that will lead you to what you are looking for or your counsel is of no value. Paul’s writings are filled with practical counsel and precise steps of action on how to grow spiritually.