“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” Titus 2:11-15
I read this passage and I get energized. I feel like I’ve just listened to my pre-game mix of warm-up music and I’m ready to take on the world. In fact, my Beats have “This Is Me” by Kesha blaring right now in order to set the mood.
My faithful band of Hopers have already been sharing about spiritual gifts this week. Their unique giftings include Discernment, Apostleship, Teaching, Pastoring, Shepherding, and more – whew, what a crew right? These gifts (Romans 12:4-8, 1 Cor 12:1-11) are given to each one as He (the Spirit) determines for the common good. And did you catch the best part? “Each one” – that means every one of us that has received Christ as Savior has received a spiritual gift, and we are invited onto His main stage for the correction, rebuke and encouragement of His church (2 Tim 4:2).
Maybe you aren’t sure what your gift(s) is/are? No problem. Ask your pastor for a recommended spiritual gifts inventory or check out an online test such as this one at www.gifts.churchgrowth.org.
I vividly remember receiving my first spiritual inventory results. I was 26 years old and my growth group and I were all crowded at the back of the sanctuary. We were assigned to clean the church that evening and had finished early so we decided to gather the group and go over our spiritual inventory results. So funny, here I was a co-leader of our group and I wasn’t even sure what my results meant.
Exhortation? What was that? I agreed with some of the other findings but was curious what this term even meant as it carried my highest scores.
From the Greek word Parakaleo, exhortation means to admonish, to encourage, to beseech. Those with the gift of exhortation can uplift and motivate others as well as challenge and rebuke them in order to foster spiritual growth and action. The goal of the encourager is to see everyone in the church contributing to the body of Christ and glorifying God.
YES! As Paul shared with Titus, my glorious salvation and redemption found in Christ alone compels me to encourage and admonish the Church towards His good works, amen?! This fires me up – even more than my jamming tunes.
Unfortunately, when I first received my exhortation diagnosis, I didn’t like it. I was an outgoing, energetic, medical resident with a larger-than-life personality. Instead of embracing who I was (and who God had made me to be), I wanted a “quieter” gifting, something that might possibly even manage to draw less attention to myself. In my immaturity, I saw the gifts as something that could change who I was and even worse, something I could pick, choose, or manipulate.
The truth is that His spiritual gifts are designed and bestowed so we can embrace the fullness of who we are in Christ and more accurately reflect His glory and renown.
It took a few years, but I feel I am finally getting into my exhortation stride. I had occasions to share here and there in the USA, but it took our move to Africa before I took the charge seriously, and have started to see exponential growth in this gifting. Here I am, with a language and cultural barrier to navigate, and yet I am committed to being His voice and He continues to open doors.
Understanding, maturity, and submission transformed my initial disdain for exhortation into a joyful obedience that has blessed my life abundantly. No matter what your spiritual gifting(s) is/are, the first step is the same for everyone- obedience. Let us not forget after all, “This is love for God: to obey his commands” 1 John 5:3
By choosing to obey, He has continued to provide amazing exhortation opportunities:
- To preach here in Uganda, Rwanda, and the USA.
- To teach and share at several women’s retreats.
- An invitation to share about God’s purity and goodness at a youth conference.
- A weekly radio spot here in Uganda with over one million listeners.
- The blessing of meeting with each of you every week here at http://www.hopeishard.com as well as other blogging opportunities as well.
- Lecturing at a local university where I am able to use my medical training and experience to edify and encourage young, aspiring medical professionals of Uganda.
- The ongoing privilege of being an advocate for hundreds of fearfully and wonderfully made sons and daughters of the King who would otherwise never have their stories heard outside of our Otino Waa Children’s Village walls.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.