Don't you just love Paul? Boy can he ever write a sentence that goes around the world and still make sense, right? Have you read Galatians lately? It is packed with so many jewels of wisdom that it is hard to wear them all. We are looking at the seven gifts that Paul talks about in Romans 12. Exhorter is next on the list. What exactly is an Exhorter?
Greek word – Parakaleo (par-ak-al-eh'-o) to call to one's side, call for, summon
to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
to admonish, exhort
to beg, entreat, beseech
to strive to appease by entreaty
to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort
to receive consolation, be comforted
to encourage, strengthen
exhorting and comforting and encouraging
to instruct, teach
The Exhorter will stand side by side, arms around a sister or brother in Christ, helping and urging progress in Spiritual Growth. They never tire in encouraging. Saints with this gift are rarely in the Evangelism business... Discipleship is their forte' and they are extremely good at it.
In John 16:7, Jesus says… “If I do not go away then the helper/comforter will not come to you…”
Biblical example of this gift is the Apostle Paul as in:
Colossians 1:28-29 “He it is whom we proclaim. We admonish everyone without distinction, we instruct everyone in all the ways of wisdom, so as to present each one of you as a mature member of Christ’s body. To this end I am toiling strenuously with all the energy and power of Christ at work in me.”
Paul was in the Evangelism business, but he invested more time in the discipleship of believers often spending a year or two with each new church, instructing in The Way.
The Greek word translated “helper/comforter” means “one called to walk alongside”. It could also be translated Exhorter because it is actually the same word and means the same thing.
The Exhorter/encourager accepts people just as they are, however, they also recognize the potential in Christ others have and will encourage them to grow towards that potential. Their motivating goal is to see you growing in your Christian life. Do you know someone like that? Someone that just loves to see Christians growing and flourishing in the Lord and in their Spiritual walk? Maybe that's you!
Each of us would do very well to have an encourager as a friend…someone who will not let us “settle” for anything less than God’s best. Exhorter will try and try to “get through” to a person, but needs to see some progress in order to continue with his encouragement and his “training”. Progress is the Exhorter's goal.
The Exhorter has a deep desire to urge others to find their full potential in Christ. They want to know what you are doing to grow: “What steps are you taking/doing?” They have the Spiritual ability to visualize Spiritual achievement for others in order to motivate them to action. It doesn’t take them long to see another person’s potential.
Exhorters have the ability to discern where someone is Spiritually. They may appear “nosy”, but they are only trying to discover where you are so they can encourage you toward God’s goal. They are extremely anxious for Spiritual growth and want to see that growth or they become discouraged. Their type of training is to give precise steps of action to help people reach Spiritual maturity or overcome stumbling blocks to growth. They won’t just tell someone what is wrong but they will always want to show you HOW to get where you need to be. There is the key to a good Encourager! Always helping to shine a light on the steps to take to have a better relationship with Christ. And, they will ennumerate them: step one is to... step two is this... and so on.
The tendency to welcome personal tribulation as a chief motivation to Spiritual growth is strong with Encouragers. God’s answer to Paul when he asked three times for Him to remove the thorn from his side was “My grace is sufficient for you…” Paul was well content with his weaknesses and he declared “When I am weak then I am strong in Him.” He learned the value of suffering and saw it as a tool in God’s hand. Paul saw it as a molding and making him what God wanted be and the Exhorter’s deep conviction is “Let’s learn what we need to learn and move on to the next level ever pressing forward, running the race to reach the goal. I will be right beside you--as long as you are trying!”
The Exhorter tends to avoid all systems of information (teachings, Bible studies, training) which neglect “personal application.” Their greatest sense of fulfillment is in giving you steps to take to achieve God’s ultimate plan for your life. The Exhorter desires face to face discussion and is grieved when shut out. He is just not interested in small talk but wants to get up close and personal…cut to the chase…get down to business…get to the meat but say the blessing first!
Discovering insights from personal experience which can be validated and amplified in Scripture is exactly what motivates the Encourager. He is interested in principles that give solid steps to growth. Unfortunately, he has a tendency toward lifting “proof texts” from Scripture without paying close attention to contexts. It isn’t that he is lazy, it is that details are not all that important…Biblical Principles rule the day in his mind. Encouragers who are walking in the Spirit know the Bible, but not word for word. They can paraphrase a verse better than anyone, and the essence is what is important to them.
This person desires to bring harmony between diverse groups of Christians and promotes awareness that harmony is the basis to Spiritual maturity. He is happiest when “right in the middle of it” and sees problems as challenges. He is truly delighted with the person that is willing to take appropriate steps of action and experiences real joy when that person exhibits growth and maturity even in the smallest increments.We will be hearing a lot from Paul this week because he is our Biblical example of an Exhorter.
If you want proof of the truth of what I'm saying, just walk with me for the rest of the week through Galatians, so put a marker there in your Bible or take a few moments today and read the book of Galatians. It is only 6 chapters long, but rich in exhortation. I know, I'm asking you to do way more than I ever have before, but I strongly believe that if we understood our siblings' motivations, we'd all get along a lot better.
Today we will focus on Galatians chapter 4. Read that chapter first, then put the verse numbers beside the statement that proves the statements as true.
1. Loves to encourage others to live victoriously.
2. Wants a visible response when teaching or speaking.
3. Prefers to apply truth rather than research it.
4. Prefers systems of information that have practical application.
What that actually means is that an Exhorter will listen all day to someone teaching principles using everyday, practical examples. This would be like Jesus when he used parables to teach. A person with the gift of teaching would much rather listen to facts with Biblical examples for emphasis. The Exhorter would rather hear a speaker preaching the Bible and the Teacher would rather have a Biblical encyclopedia; both are excellent “systems of information”.
Read Galatians chapter 5 and identify verses that prove the truth of the statements below.
5. Loves to prescribe precise steps of action to aid personal growth.
6. Focuses on working with people.
7. Encourages others to develop in their personal ministries.
8. Finds truth in experience and then validates it with Scripture
Loves to do personal counseling.
This is one on one... the Exhorter preference. The Exhorter will counsel a group, but the first love is one on one coaching and encouragement. It is easier to measure results when the counseling is one on one and that is a must fuel for the Exhorter--results. (When I learned this, I finally understood why is was so necessary for me to find out results of my prayers. It took a while for me to understand that prayers don't always have immediate results. God uses prayer to draw us into His plan as well as a way to test our hearts. After I learned that, it was okay not to have an immediate result to a prayer. I no longer got depressed when I prayed and prayed with no evident answer. God was in control and His will be done regardless of a result. Results are not answers, results are evidence, but not answers.)
10. Will discontinue personal counseling if no effort to change is seen.
11. Is fluent in communication.
12. Views trials as opportunities to produce growth.
Now that you have read the whole book of Galatians, it should be easier for you to identify chapter and verses to illustrate the different aspects of an Exhorter. Also, by now, if you are strong in the gift of Exhortation, you should be extremely frustrated because there have not been Life Lessons in this week. You are asking yourself, “Yes, I understand these principles already; where are the Life applications? How is anyone to know how to apply this to their life? Where is the 1—2—3, step-by-step?” In fact you may have already jumped ahead and read this page because of your frustration.
In order to satisfy that need in the Exhorters taking this study and also to satisfy the teachers taking this study, we will focus on two things. The first is this: Write down a few of the different illustrations that Paul used in his writings to the churches. Galatians is full of them. I’ll start you off with one.
1.Last Will and Testament Galatians 2:15
I just love Galatians because we find out lot of personal information about Paul. It is here we find out that Paul studied under Jesus Christ for three years in Arabia. It is here we find out that Paul met first with Peter and stayed with him for two weeks only seeing one other apostle, James— Jesus’ brother, when he went up to Jerusalem. We also find out he waited another fourteen years before meeting with the Christians in Jerusalem.
Paul did not need any authority from any of the apostles to spread the Gospel. He only recognized the authority from Jesus, Himself (Galatians 1:11- 2:8). I am pointing this out because I want you to recognize this is not a quality or attribute of an Exhorter. It is a strong attribute of an Administrator. This is important because in Galatians we see Paul exhibit several attributes of the other gifts, too. This is very important because all we Christians have all the gifts, just in different proportions. The least of my gifts is Service, the greatest is Administrator.
This is a crucial point in our study. The reason is because we all are strong in one particular gift and we all have several attributes of other gifts. This is what makes us unique and uniquely fitted specifically for God’s purposes and His plan for our life. Look how God molded and taught Paul. God uniquely fitted Paul for his ministry to the Gentiles. Only Paul could fit perfectly into the work that God had prepared for him. And Paul understood motivational Spiritual gifts and his own ministry very clearly. He also understood why he was gifted with the attributes he had. No one can say Paul was a clear and straight forward writer. Some of his sentences do wander around a bit before getting to the point, however, Paul always had a strong point. He consistently used imagery and illustrations as did Jesus. Paul was “running the race” or “harvesting the harvest” or “being a slave for Jesus”. I hope you recognize these as life applications for Biblical principles. An excellent example of this is Paul’s recognition of God’s own allegory in Genesis. Read Galatians 4:21-5:1 This is a most excellent example of real life depicting God’s principle except it actually happened about 4500 years ago. This story that Paul retells along with his explanation should satisfy the teacher’s interest in accuracy and history, the Perceiver’s interest in God’s Word and the Exhorter’s interest in real life applications.
This was days 1-3. Days four, and five you can click on the number.
This study was inspired by Charles Stanley's sermons on Romans 12 and Don and Katie Fortune's book Your God Given Gifts
Part 6 is here.
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