The What, When, and Why of Exhorting One Another

The What, When, and Why of Exhorting One Another

There is no statute of limitations on being an encouragement. Each day think of someone who might need a supportive word—perhaps a note, a visit, a phone call. Don’t wait then. Do it. Satan never stops his attempts to discourage the people of God; therefore, we should never stop in our work of comforting and encouraging and exhorting.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. — Hebrews 3:13

In this verse, the writer of Hebrews is encouraging the church to be the church. That is, he is telling us something of what it means to live in a community with brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a responsibility that is laid upon all of us once we join the family of faith. Here we learn what it is, when we’re to do it, and why it’s so important.

The What of Exhorting One Another

First, the “what.” The Greek word translated “exhort” (parakleite) is the word of strong encouragement. Maybe you recognize it from the word Paraclete, an older term referring to the Holy Spirit and referred to by Jesus as “the comforter” or “the helper” (John 14:16). This word is often used in secular Greek literature of the naval or military commander putting strength into his sailors or soldiers.

Thus, believers are expected to exercise a daily, cheering ministry to other Christians. We are not meant to be a burden: nitpicking at all the things we think people are doing wrong or could be doing better. We are not meant to sit in judgment over others either. We are called to be cheerleaders. We are to mimic those traits of the Holy Spirit and be a help and an encouragement.

The When of Exhorting One Another

In his commentary The Message of Hebrews, Raymond Brown writes,

It is never fitting for believers to adopt the depressing pessimistic outlook of a godless world. (p. 88)

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