Some people don’t know how to pay compliments to others. They’re always critical, always critiquing this or that. And when they do pay a compliment, it’s more of the backhanded variety.
For instance, they’ll say, “Hey! You’re on time!” or “You look great for your age!” or “You’re so pretty. Why are you still single?”
While there is no spiritual gift of criticism, there is the spiritual gift of exhortation, or encouraging others. The Bible says, “If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging” (Romans 12:8 NLT).
The word exhort relating to the spiritual gift of exhortation means to motivate, to stimulate, to excite, and when necessary, to correct. It’s urging someone on.
Someone with the gift of teaching will tell you how to do something, but someone with the gift of exhortation motivates you to want to do it.
Some people are great with the details of Greek and Hebrew, historical background, and so forth. It’s fantastic. Then others give messages that make you want to go and change the world. The church needs both gifts today.
I think Jesus gives us the model of how to properly exhort in His message to the seven churches of Revelation, and specifically to the church of Ephesus.
Loosely paraphrased, here’s what Jesus said to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2: “I know you guys work hard, and I know you’re discerning. I know all that you do for me, and I appreciate that. But I have this issue with you. You have left your first love. So, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works quickly.”
Jesus started with compliments and affirmation, followed by a word of criticism, and then the solution.
The church needs teachers, but we also need people with the gift of exhortation.
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