Fellowship of Serving: Encouragement Gifts

“George Truett was a tremendously effective pastor for decades in Texas. His heart was broken when he accidentally killed his best friend while they were on a hunting trip. His daughter said that she never heard him laugh after that day. Truett had a radio program, and each day when it came to a close he would say, “Be good to everybody, because everybody is having a tough time.” Because he knew personally what a heavy burden people could be carrying, he encouraged compassion toward them. Sometimes we cross paths with people who seem to be brusque and not very easy to like. Yet there is usually a reason for their behavior, and often it is because they are hiding a heavy heart. If we take the time to understand what has happened, we may find that while they have a tough outer exterior, inwardly they are desperately wishing for someone to care about them.”[1]

We all need encouragement. We all need people in our lives that are quick to encourage us. The Spiritual Gifts of Encouragement are given by the Holy Spirit as He wills to individuals within the church to provide encouragement for the church. These gifts include the gift Exhortation and Faith.

Exhortation. The Greek word for this gift is ‘parakaleo’ It means to beseech, exhort, call upon, to encourage, and to strengthen. Paul encourages the use of this gift in Romans 12:8 where exhortation is listed as a spiritual gift. The purpose of this gift is to strengthen and encourage those who may be wavering in the faith. Those who have this gift have a unique ability to uplift and motivate others. They are also able to remind others of the wonderful works of God, particularly when it comes to salvation. Those with the gift of exhortation are able to foster spiritual growth in others by encouraging them in the study of the scriptures. There are really two prerequisites for those who have this gift. (1) A love for the study of God’s Word. Those who have the gift of exhortation are students of the Bible. They love to study God’s Word and they love to encourage others by the things that they have learned. (2) A love for spiritual growth in others. Those who have been given the gift of exhortation are those who take joy in seeing others grow in their faith. They love to see people grow spiritually. They get excited to see new believers growing in their walk with God. Basically, if you have the spiritual gift of exhortation, you will enjoy encouraging others through the Word of God and encouraging others to grow spiritually. Those who have this gift would serve best in the church as small group leaders or discipleship mentors.

Faith. The other spiritual gift in the category of encouragement is the gift of faith. We are not talking here of saving faith, rather, it is practicing faith or living a life of faith. The Greek word for faith is ‘pistis.’ It means to have confidence, certainty, and assurance. It is rooted in one’s saving faith in Christ and the faith that comes from a close relationship with Jesus. In Matthew 17:14-21 we see Jesus giving his disciples a lesson on faith. “And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”[2] There are several principles that we see here concerning faith that applies to those who have the spiritual gift of faith. (1) Never attempt to do something on your own that only God can do. The disciples attempted to cast out the demon by their own power. Someone who has the spiritual gift of faith is one who understands that they can do nothing apart from the power of God. They have a firm trust in the power of God. (2) It does not take a lot of faith to accomplish great things. Jesus said that if you have the faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. Those who have the spiritual gift of faith are those who understand this principle. Their faith is strong, and they encourage others by their faith because they have experienced how God works in and through someone whose faith may be small. (3) Faith comes through a growing relationship with Christ. Jesus told his disciples that faith comes to those who pray and fast. The spiritual gift of faith is given to those who have a special daily walk with God. They are those who are faithful in reading their Bible and in prayer. In Hebrews chapter eleven we see what is known as the ‘hall of faith.’ The writer lists people of great faith throughout the scriptures. The faith of these great saints of God is an encouragement to those who come after them. Those to whom the Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of faith is a great encouragement to others. It helps others to think, “If they can make it, so can I.” The Holy Spirit gives this gift to some in the church to encourage and build up the church in their confidence in God. Those with this gift have a strong understanding of the sovereignty of God and they take Him at His Word. They firmly believe that if God says it that settles it, and they act upon that belief. Those with the gift of faith expect God to work and they are not surprised when He does.

What about you? Do you sense that the Holy Spirit has given you the gifts of exhortation and faith. If so, use those gifts for the edifying of the church and for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

[1] Lee Roberson: Always about His Father’s Business, James H. Wigton

[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 17:14–21). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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