In the New Testament there are a couple or three places that mention gifts of the spirit. In Romans 12:6-8 it gives seven gifts the fourth is exhortation. In doing some research on the word and synonyms I believe I have found evidence that exhortation and encouragement are closely intertwined as far as the gifts given to us as servants of Yahuah, the Most High God. Each has a different gift and just the other day it dawned on me that mine is a gift of encouragement or exhortation. Why I never realized that before is a mystery. Maybe because the manifestations of encouragement and exhortation come naturally to me and I never considered that it was a natural gift given to me by God himself.
Romans 12:6-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:
use it according to the standard of one’s[a] faith;
7 if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
8 if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence;
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.
In this verse exhort and exhortation are the Greek words parakaleō and paraklēsis. Some commentary gives an example of exhortation such as when you were young and your mom would tell you to be sure an wear a a coat and scarf when you went out on a cold day. Cover your mouth when you cough is another motherly exhortation. However, as I read the basic definitions from the Strong’s Concordance it seems to me the meaning includes calling someone to your side to encourage and give comfort.
A little further research into commentary on the Biblical definition I encountered a couple of articles discussing exhortation and encouragement. People with the gift of exhortation tend to guide people in their spiritual walk and develop personal relationships to be there for the person who is weaker in faith. In one article it says that one who exhorts will do more than tell someone to read scripture specific to their situation and will say, ‘lets do a study together on these scriptures.’ I can’t say that I’ve gone that far and actually started a Bible study for the purpose of exhorting another believer. However, I find that when I’m trying to encourage someone I will find encouraging scriptures that are applicable to their current situation and give them to the person. I find I do that a lot with those who are far away from me and I cannot be there to encourage them in person. They will get text messages in the middle of the day quoting a scripture that I encountered and felt it was a perfect passage to encourage them in their current situation. The opportunity does not always present itself for me to practice this gift in person. Occasionally, but with the advent of widespread social media it has become easier to encourage those I love and care about regardless of how far they are from me geographically.
This gift fits well in the instruction God gave me over a decade ago. The Lord is efficient in his commands. I find he often uses three word commands. Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep.” I’ve heard others say God has told them things like, “Preach my Word.” “Read my book.” Action verb, my, subject noun, those are about as simple of sentences and as clear as you can get. The voice of God is that still small voice, he doesn’t shout but I hear his voice as clear as if he standing by my side. For me it was, “Love my people.” What better way to love his people than through encouragement? Exhorting people to live a holy life to have a closer walk with God, taking them to scriptures that will lift their spirits when life gets tough, when the evil one is attacking them and they are discouraged, when they feel that their sins are unforgivable, this is the essence of the gift of exhortation – encouragement.
Blessings and be of good cheer,