One consistent duty every Christian owes the other is to exhort one another in their mutual belief in God and the faithful practice of the Christian religion. According to Vines Expository Dictionary, the term “exhort” means: to call on or entreat; to admonish; to urge one to pursue some future course of conduct. God’s Case calls upon the faithful to this end: “but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
In view of this truth, it behooves all believers to take Bible teaching seriously and receive the subsequent direction it offers with all reverence and thanksgiving. The world would advise one otherwise, claiming that the Bible is just a general guide and would suggest it is only advisory at best.
Such is the thought alluded to in the previous Bible quotation which stresses the deceitfulness of sin. Satan, who is identified by scripture as the god of this age (god of the world) is also identified as the father of all lies and liars. His very name means deceiver or destroyer. His revealed character identifies him as one who intends to destroy souls, often through a twisted portrayal of the truth. Therefore, Christians are encouraged to exhort one another to be on guard for their souls, to examine current practice for authority and to persist in the pursuit of the upward call of God.
Though Christians are called upon to exhort, most find it a difficult task. For instance, positive exhortation of uplifting behavior is often neglected due to the mistaken notion that correct behavior is the norm, and if it isn’t bad or broken, there is no need to address it. Of course this thinking negates the motivating power of exhortation as a tool and an encouragement to persevere in divinely approved behavior. And too, exhortation is many times not given simply because we forget to offer it. In either case, the exhortation that is commanded and sorely needed, hasn’t taken place.
It is also true, exhortation is most often withheld whenever one’s behavior reflects a lack of knowledge or even rebellion against the truth. Such reluctance to exhort in this instance is due primarily to a real or perceived fear. It is difficult to exhort those who are engaged in worldly activities or actions which exceed Biblical authority when the exhorter fears they will be viewed as foolish, or ignorant, or negative or even fanatical. It is inherent in mankind to avoid being perceived in any of these ways. So, fear of these can put most of us in a state of mental paralysis and inhibit us from exhorting one another to faithfulness. Fear of making someone angry or fear of losing a relationship are also very real fears that prevent the giving of needed exhortation. So then, fear of the consequences resulting from exhortation is a primary tool and effective tactic in Satan’s attempt to deceive and destroy.
Exhortation in many instances can be, and should be, viewed as a warning. Such warnings are both important and urgent when judgment has failed and allowed the deceitfulness of Satan and sin to pervade one’s thinking. We are all continually in need of exhortation, hence the Bible teaching requiring us to practice such regularly. The world comes at the Christian from all angles and its message is one of deceit and misdirection. Therefore we need each other, both to encourage faithfulness and to warn against Satan’s lie.
Neglecting to exhort has been the salient factor allowing the world spirit to permeate the hearts and minds of men allowing unborn children to be killed by the millions. Failure to exhort has allowed many to become desensitized to all forms of sexual perversion promoted by the entertainment media. Failure to exhort has led untold millions to view the family, marriage, child rearing and relationship roles as discretionary, take it or leave it, responsibilities. Current unfulfilled opportunities to exhort are leading to further and further departures from God’s truth. And do not be deceived; such departures take us to places we do not want to go.
“And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words.” (Hebrews 13:22).
C.E. White is a native of Nacogdoches who graduated from NHS in 1965 and SFA in 1974. He is a Navy veteran and refers to himself as simply “a Bible student.” He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.