By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
The Bible features many statements of exhortation. We can learn valuable spiritual lessons from all of those exhortations, if we take action to apply them to our lives. Here’s a look at 30 important exhortations in the Bible that we must remember to keep growing in our relationships with God – and how to learn from them.
What Is an Exhortation?
An exhortation is a message that strongly urges us to act in a specific way. Exhortations usually include both encouragement for doing something and an explanation of the importance of doing so. In the Bible, exhortations urge us to take some sort of action that can move us closer to God. A biblical exhortation encompasses a sense of personal calling to do something, since God calls us in the context of our relationships with him. The English word “exhortation” in the Bible is translated from the Greek word “paraklesis,” which means “a calling” and has a sense of closeness about it that indicates a personal relationship.
In Romans 12:8, the Bible lists different spiritual gifts and includes exhortation (also called “encouragement” in some translations) as one of those spiritual gifts. Here are 30 important exhortations in the Bible:
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Exhortations about Faith
2. Joshua 24:14: “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness…”.
3. 1 Samuel 12:24: “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
4. Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
5. Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
7. 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
8. Matthew 6:31-33: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
9. Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
10. Isaiah 26:3-4: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”
Exhortations about Holiness
1. Leviticus 20:7-8: “‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.’”
2. 2 Timothy 2:15: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
3. Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
4. Job 22:21: “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”
5. Hebrews 3:13: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
6. Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”
8. Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
9. Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
10. John 15:9-11: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
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Exhortations about Relationships
1. 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
3. Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
4. Luke 6:37: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
5. Luke 6:27-28: “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
6. Hebrews 10:25: “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
7. Ephesians 5:1-2: “Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
8. 1 Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
9. John 13:33-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
10. Matthew 28:18-20: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
What Can We Learn and Apply to Our Own Lives from These Exhortations?
These exhortations all have something valuable for us to learn spiritually, no matter how long we have been walking with God. By applying each one of these exhortations to our lives, we can strengthen our faith. Lifelong learning is vital in our relationships with God, who always has something new to teach us. Jesus, who was called “Rabboni” (which means “Master Teacher”) during his earthly life, urges us in Matthew 11:29 to “learn from me”. In John 14:26, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will be a “Counselor” for us who “will teach you all things.” Research that my book Wake Up to Wonder explains reveals a strong mutual connection between lifelong learning and feeling awe from encountering God’s wonder. Learning can lead to awe and wonder, and experiencing awe and wonder inspires people to learn, the research shows. Whenever we need the motivation to learn from biblical exhortations, we can think of something about God that inspires us with awe, and then we will naturally want to learn from God’s exhortations and apply that wisdom to our lives.
We can see several different themes in the various biblical exhortations: faith, holiness, and relationships. Faith is the foundation of our relationships with God. Hebrews 11:6 declares: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Holiness is the process of becoming more like our heavenly Father, who is holy. In Leviticus 11:44, God proclaims: “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy…”. Relationships are based in the most important value of all – love – and since “God is love” (1 John 4:16) relationships are vital. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-40 that our most important spiritual priorities are to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (verse 37) and to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (verse 39).
As we read biblical exhortations, meditate on them, and pray about them, we can be inspired with awe that motivates us to act on them. That’s because God is always at work through the Bible’s words. Hebrews 4:12 tell us: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
A biblical exhortation is a statement that calls us to do something that is important in our relationships with God. The Bible includes many different exhortations, and all of them are important. Each exhortation can teach us a valuable lesson about faith, holiness, or relationships. When we incorporate the wisdom of biblical exhortations into our lives, we can enjoy closer relationships with God as a result.
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