March 21, 2011
The Spiritual Gift of Exhortation
“Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord;”
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We saw yesterday that Barnabas introduced Paul the apostle to the saints in Jerusalem. Barnabas took hold of Paul, brought him into the Jerusalem fellowship, and he ministered there freely. Eventually, however, the Jews in Jerusalem sought to kill him and Paul went back to his hometown of Tarsus.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ spread to the city of Antioch in Asia Minor. Gentiles received salvation, just like the Jews. The assembly at Jerusalem sent Barnabas there to see what was taking place in Antioch. When Barnabas arrived, he began to minister to them. He also gives us several great examples of the work of exhortation.
In Acts 11:23, we see Barnabas using his spiritual gifts. The apostles called him the Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36). You can see why they gave him this name as you consider his ministry.
Encouragers Witness the Grace of God, Not Matter What Anyone Else Sees. When Barnabas looked at all those Gentiles worshipping God, and living new lives in Christ, Barnabas saw the grace of God in action. He did not focus upon how weird the Gentiles were, or how different their spiritual practices were from Jerusalem with its temple, or a thousand other differences. He saw the grace of the same Lord Jesus at work in Antioch that he saw in Jerusalem. People with the spiritual gift of encouragement have the ability to see the grace of God at work in people and congregations around them. Remember that grace from God means you have obtained freely something of great value that you did not earn or deserve. Barnabas saw it firsthand at Antioch and knew what God was doing there.
Encouragers Rejoice When They Witness God Working. Barnabas truly enjoyed his assignment from the Jerusalem church. When he saw all the new Gentile believers at Antioch, he rejoiced. Using your spiritual gifts should always bring joy to your life, knowing that you are building up the Body of Christ, and producing spiritual unity within the entire Body of Christ.
Encouragers Encourage New Believers (and Old Believers). Barnabas encouraged (“παρεκάλει“) the new believers to remain with the Lord Jesus. As we have seen, the Spiritual Gift of Encouragement displays itself in many varied ministries, but one common thread is the result that people remain firm or grow firmer in their love for Jesus Christ. God sent Barnabas not only to investigate, but also to encourage the good things going on in Antioch.
So we learn more about the Spiritual Gift of Exhortation today from the life and ministry of Barnabas.
● We learn that we need to the grace of God at work around us. Sometimes God will send you to people at work, or in your social life, so that you can witness His grace at work. Be ready to encourage.
● We learn that the people using the Spiritual Gift of Exhortation encourage believers to remain steady with Jesus Christ. Having seen God’s grace in action, they use their spiritual gifts to promote, steady and strengthen believers.
● We hinder the Spiritual Gift of Exhortation when we fail to see the grace of God working all around us. When we see God at work, we should rejoice in Him.
Application for Today
Today, I want to witness the grace of God in action. What will you be seeing today?