If you want to fulfill God’s plan for your life, there’s one thing you must not do: Don’t forsake the daily fellowship and encouragement of other believers! Hebrews 3:13 tells us that we need to “… exhort one another daily…” But what does it mean to “exhort”?
The word for “exhort” that is used in this verse comes from the Greek word parakaleo. It is a compound of the words para and kaleo. The word para means alongside, and the word kaleo means to call, to invite, to speak, or to beckon. When these two words are compounded into one, it gives the picture of someone who has come closely alongside of another person for the sake of speaking to him, consoling him, comforting him, or assisting him with instruction, counsel, or advice.
Because it is so helpful when someone comes alongside to support you in this manner, this word is often translated in the New Testament as the word encouragement. Jesus used the word paraklete, a derivative of parakaleo, to describe the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” in John 14:16.
These verses make it abundantly clear that we need to both give and receive encouragement from other believers on a daily basis. This is such a vital principle that the tense used in the Greek language calls for continual action. In other words, we are not to just encourage one another once a week; we are to make this a matter of lifestyle. We must get into the habit of encouraging one another, doing it so often that it becomes a daily practice!
Think how encouraging it is when someone cares enough to take you to lunch, call you on the telephone, write you a note, or go out of his way at the office or church to come to you and ask how you are doing. It is especially very strengthening to know that someone really cares about you if you’re going through challenging times!
But rather than fixate only on your need to be encouraged, try taking your eyes off yourself to see those around you who are also in need of strength. Think of someone you know whom you can strengthen by coming alongside him to speak words of comfort, consolation, or bravery. Maybe you can take that person to lunch; call him on the telephone; drop him a note; or go out of your way to see how he is doing. Remember, you’re not the only one who needs encouragement!
We all need encouragement from brothers and sisters in the Lord who will lovingly attach themselves to us—watching us, making observations about us, and finding ways to provoke us unto love and good deeds. But we must also turn around and do the same for other believers. That’s what the Body of Christ is all about!
So recognize that when you’re feeling down and left out, you need fellowship with people of faith more than ever. Jesus understood this principle. When He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray the night before His crucifixion, He asked Peter, James, and John to come pray with Him. Jesus needed their fellowship and strength that night, or He wouldn’t have requested it.
Recognize your need for others—and acknowledge that others need you as well. The daily exhortation and encouragement of other believers will help you stir up your faith to hold fast to your confession until it becomes a reality. And as an added side benefit, you will experience more deeply the Presence of the Lord in your life through the joy of knowing and loving other people of like faith!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I want to be a major source of blessing to people in my life! Help me to quit being so fixated on myself and to see how I can become a strength and encouragement to others who are around me. Your Word commands me to be involved in giving daily encouragement. And since I am seriously committed to obeying Your Word, I intend to find a way to encourage someone who needs strength today!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I need to be encouraged! God’s Word commands me to be encouraged daily, so I choose to believe that encouragement is what I need. I recognize my need for others, and I acknowledge that others need my encouragement as well. The daily exhortation and encouragement of other believers will stir up my faith and help me hold fast to my confession of faith!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- How does it affect you when someone goes out of his way to check on you or to see how you are doing?
- How does it affect you when no one ever asks how you are doing or what is new in your life—when it seems like everyone is ignoring the fact that you also have needs in your life?
- Are you involved in giving strength and encouragement to others, or are you just concerned about receiving it from others? Where is your focus? Is it on yourself or on the needs of other people as well?
Rather than fixate only on your need to be encouraged, try taking your eyes off yourself to see those around you who are also in need of strength. Think of someone you know whom you can strengthen by coming alongside him to speak words of comfort, consolation, or bravery. Maybe you can take that person to lunch; call him on the telephone; drop him a note; or go out of your way to see how he is doing. Remember, you’re not the only one who needs encouragement!