The Service Gift of Exhortation

God’s Gifts of Service, Ministry, and Caring for the Needs of Others in the Church

Romans 12

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I.         Introduction – The List of Service Gifts


A.      What Are Spiritual Gifts? (1Cor 12:1)


1.        Spiritual gifts can be defined as spiritual drives, and passions given to us by the Lord to achieve supernatural goals. They are spiritual abilities that enable a believer to change people’s lives. Each person who is born again into God's kingdom receives at least one spiritual gift that is to be used to changed peoples lives!

2.        These gifts, when used, encourage and motivate other believers into stronger living for the Lord Jesus

3.        A church full of people with these kind of gifts is the most blessed!


B.       What Is the Purpose of Spiritual Gifts? (1Peter 4:10; Eph 4:11-14)


1.        To glorify God and to bless and help others!

2.        The Spirit-filled life is lived in service for others – especially for other believers.

3.        So, the full potential of a life, a marriage, a family, or a church will not be experienced until there is a clear, Biblical understanding of each person’s spiritual gifts. That’s why we have taken so long to go through them, and sought to understand and start using them!.


C.       The List of Service Gifts (Romans 12:6-8; 1Cor 12:28)


1.        Prophecy – (Biblical word) Speaking Up for God

2.        Ministry / Helps – Holding Up the Brethren

3.        Teaching – Instructing People in the Ways of God

4.        Exhorting – Urging and Encouraging Others

5.        Giving – Sharing With Others

6.        Governments / Ruling – Governing and Managing People

7.        Mercy – Showing Compassion on Others


D.      God has given each believer at least one spiritual gift to build up the body of Christ and to minister in our hurting world.


1.        If our gift is prophecy, we’ll proclaim God’s view of right and wrong.

2.        If it is Ministry and Service, we will desire to meet others’ needs and hold them up when they fall.

3.        If it is Teaching, we will spend our lives LEARNING how to help people know God’s truth so that they can be not just free from sin, but free “indeed” (John 8:32,36) – really free!

4.        If it is Exhortation, we will rally behind people that others have given up on, and urge them to run and run along with them if need be so that they finish their course! We will help the lost find Jesus is altogether lovely!


E.       All of the spiritual gifts can be used in the workplace, in our homes, and most importantly in our church.

F.       There is a companion list of emphasis that goes with each gift in Romans 12:9-21. This list is almost more important that the gifts themselves – they represent the things to beware of and things to develop with a gift. They constrain us! Without this list, the gifts of prophecy, teaching, ministry, exhorting, giving, governing, and mercy won’t work at all!


II.       Message – The Service Gift of Exhorting – Urging and Encouraging Others


A.      Definition (Heb 3:13; 10:25)


1.        To “encourage thoroughly”


a.        To motivate through wise words and wise actions – to influence

b.       To encourage, embolden, cheer, to advise.  To excite or to give strength, spirit or courage by words or advice

c.        To use words or arguments to motivate good deeds. 

d.       It is what a preacher does when he preaches – he exhorts using words and arguments – but not every preacher has this gift!

e.        Some believers have this wonderful gift!  They are men and women of faith and faithfulness who constantly encourage the brethren.  They are high in spirit and comfortable in trouble!


2.        The gift of exhortation is the special ability God gives to certain members of a church to minister words of encouragement, comfort, and counsel to other members of the body so that they are helped and spiritually healed.

3.        In the Old Testament, this person would have been a counsellor – an advisor –someone who would be looked to for wisdom and leadership (James 1:5)

4.        It includes the responsibility of not just encouraging, but urging – through warning, advising, counselling (Jude 1:3)

5.        People don’t grow spiritually naturally – they have to be encouraged, counselled, taught and prodded in their walks (Psalm 1:1,2; Prov 11:14)


B.       Best Examples.


1.        John the Baptist (Luke 3:7-18) – He was a real motivator


a.        Challenged people’s self-righteousness

b.       Scared them – put the fear of God in them

c.        Gave the people clear instructions from the Bible how to live right with God – gave them hope

d.       Pointed everyone’s attention onto Jesus Christ

e.        He prepared everyone in Israel for the Messiah’s appearance


2.        Jesus (Isa 9:6) – HE is our counsellor – our motivator (Heb 12:2,3) – our reason why we do anything good!

3.        Joses – better known as Barnabas (Acts 4, 9, 11, 15). Here is an example of how to Be an Encourager:


a.        Be a Giver (4:32-37)


1)       There was intense persecution, and loss of jobs, homes, incomes

2)       People normally are stingy and self-preserving

3)       But these new believers were selfless and givers now

4)       And out of nowhere came Barnabas

5)       Others were giving and meeting people’s desperate needs, and so he went and sold his land, and brought the money to the apostles, and let them distribute it to the believers

6)       This was the FIRST act of the Barnabas, the encourager, the consoler, the counsellor, the exhorter

7)       Make it YOUR first act too – more about this thought in a few moments!


b.       Be a Friend (9:26,27; 15:36-41) – a real live Christian kind of a friend!


1)       Take some risks with people

2)       Barnabas took two big risks


a)       First was with this killer named Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:26,27)


(i)       Nobody, and I mean NOBODY believed that Saul was really saved

(ii)     They ran from him – wouldn’t believe it

(iii)    Yet Barnabas risked believing in Saul’s testimony

(iv)   Brought Saul into the church, and made him feel welcome, and got the Christians to trust Saul

(v)     What a great friend Barnabas was


b)       The second was with John Mark (Acts 12:25; 15:36-41)


(i)       Barnabas and Saul decide to take a young man named John Mark along to try and train him in the ministry (12:25)

(ii)     But John Mark quickly found out just how hard it was and gave up – he went back home to Jerusalem

(iii)    Later, Barnabas tries again with John Mark, and Paul would have none of it – John had turned back and so he was not trustworthy – not reliable (15:36-41)

(iv)   But Barnabas was willing to break fellowship with Paul in order to believe in John Mark

(v)     And, by the way, Barnabas was right about John Mark – he is used by God to write the Gospel of… “Mark”

(vi)   And even Paul, many years later publicly admits that John Mark is a blessing to him (2Tim 4:11)


c)       Thank God for Barnabas’ who risk THEIR reputation on people who have been given up on


c.        Be a Builder (11:22,23)


1)       When Barnabas saw what God was doing in Antioch, he realized they needed a leader with an organizational mind and some spiritual insight. He knew Saul could help them and also that Saul had spiritual gifts that needed to be discovered and developed.

2)       In Acts 11:25-26 we read, “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people …”

3)       Barnabas never wrote a book in the Bible, but he encouraged two people who later did—Paul and Mark. Barnabas was the man that God used to encourage and develop leadership.

4)       Say things and do things that build up and equip people to be God’s best. Do you do that, or are you a fault-finder? Do you build-up people, or easily tear them down with your words, and your actions?

5)       A church is a delicate thing – it can be devastated simply by discouragement

6)       How much more by our harsh words, or cruel actions against people

7)       A new church (like the one in Antioch) needs a whole lot of encouragement and praise – not knit-picking and fault finding

8)       Barnabas was the right man to go to Antioch and check it out


a)       Another person might have been too picky about how things were being done

b)       They might have pre-judged the people, and not given them a chance

c)       Remember, up until now, 99% of all believers were Jews, and so these Antiochan believers were “different” and easily misunderstood

d)       The same is true here with us – so many cultures and backgrounds – be very careful!


9)       Be builders in this church, encouragers, blessers!


d.       Be a Promoter (11:25,26) – lift up the leaders – don’t seek to be the “boss”


1)       At first Barnabas was the leader – Saul was the learner (11:30; 12:25; 13:2)

2)       Soon, Saul became the leader (13:43, 46, 50) – it was because Barnabas was always training people around him for greatness!

3)       Even after Paul began leading, Barnabas didn’t fade away, but he still lead as the opportunity arose (15:12, 22, 25)

4)       Principle: Barnabas led when needed, but he motivated more – he encouraged people so that Paul’s preaching and leadership had a lasting effect everywhere. That was Barnabas’ gift. Everyone loves encouragers, but encouragers don’t make the best pastors and preachers!

5)       No preacher or pastor can do his work without encouragers who honour their pastor, and keep people believing in God and hungry for His word!


C.       Best Uses of Exhortation.


1.        Soul-winning – the work of urging and exhorting people (Act 2:40)

2.        Church visitation – just being a blessing to others seeing how they are doing

3.        Prison ministry

4.        Counselling people

5.        Hospital visitation


D.      How to Tell if You Have This Gift.


1.        You have a tendency to come to the side of those who are discouraged to strengthen and reassure them and keep them in the Christian race;

2.        You find it easy to confront people, challenge them if they are struggling, exhort them to believe God’s word over their feelings, and encourage those who have gotten off track in their faith or life and get them back in their race;

3.        You often help others change their behaviour by applying biblical truth in their lives like a doctor applies an ointment; You tend to see where people can be, and are quick to come up with ways the help them step-by-step achieve spiritual success

4.        You often have people around you because you cheer them up by a simple attitude and demeanour and down-to-earth advice;

5.        You emphasize God's promises and to have confidence in the Lord's will – you have eternal hope and optimism – they don’t see problems and obstacles, but simply delays, and setbacks, and more importantly, God moving in people’s lives (2Cor 1:1-7)

6.        You will not mind being transparent – you will know that people will grow best around you who really get to know you as you follow Christ (1Cor 11:1)

7.        You love face to face exchanges – not pulpiteering

8.        You are normally: Positive, Motivating, Challenging , Sensitive, Reassuring, Supportive, Trustworthy, Optimistic


E.       What Struggles Will An Exhorter Have?


1.        Discouragement – if the devil can discourage an encourager, he has unplugged him or her!

2.        Impatience – they usually are very patient, so be aware that the devil will work his hardest to get you agitated, annoyed at people

3.        Too busy to pray! Prone to look to yourself for solutions because you have been so right before


F.       What Hinders This and All Gifts in a Christian’s Life?


1.        Any sin that God has told you to let go of and get rid of

2.        With Barnabas, it was his land


a.        He was a “Levite” not supposed to own land, but simply lease it from others

b.       He never shows up until he sells his land and gives the money to the apostles

c.        That land had been holding this great young man back from being able to use his gift

d.       Once that possession was gotten rid of, God began to use Him mightily


3.        What might be holding YOU back – what is there that has a grip on your mind, your heart, and your life so that you are spiritually “out of petrol”?


a.        Unforgiveness? Not able to go to someone who has hurt you and forgive them?

b.       Bitterness – blaming someone for your hurt all these years?

c.        Anger? Mad at somebody, even at God?

d.       And yet you have a real gift for helping people – and you will NEVER be able to use it until these things are defeated and left dead on the cross!

e.        How about covetousness? Do you have some money that God told you to give and you will not give it?

f.         How about laziness? Are you going to always have excuses why you CAN’T do anything for God, or are you going to try, and try, and try again because He is worthy?



III.     Conclusion


A.      Barnabas was an encourager, and we too are called to be encouragers. In 2 Corinthians 1:3, the Bible calls God “the God of all comfort” or encouragement. So for us to encourage others is to be like God.

B.       We need the Barnabas’ to stand up and be counted!

C.       For the glory of God, will you now say, “God, make me an encourager?” Someone who will “encourage thoroughly” People don’t grow spiritually naturally – they have to be encouraged, counselled, taught and prodded in their walks

D.      Ask God to show you your gift and begin to use it, especially if it is the gift of Exhortation!

E.       Four Ways You Can Encourage Others


1.        Be a Giver – in every way!

2.        Be a Friend – a Christian Friend

3.        Be a Builder of Spiritual Things – like homes and this church

4.        Be a Promoter  – lift up the leaders – don’t seek to be the “boss”


F.       If you are finding it hard to encourage people these days, it is most definitely because of some sin in your life. Get rid of it today! Crucify it – no matter how hard it may be, it is not worth living lifeless and powerless!


Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland