Romans 12:8

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

July 21, 1999


Paul has moved through his doctrinal section in Romans and now has moved on to the practical side of things. We now have moved into a section where he is encouraging the church in Rome to realize that they are a living organism, a "body". They all have a function in the body, they all have a part to play. That part in the body is determined by the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given each one.

(Rom 12:6-7 KJV) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; {7} Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

:8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation:

exhortethparakaleo – to call to one's side, call for, summon; to admonish, exhort; to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort; to encourage, strengthen

As I’ve studied this word and its usage, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two main ideas behind it:

1) Encouragment to action.

Getting someone off the sofa and out doing something.

2) Comforting others.

Those that are discouraged, those that are full of sorrow, we need to "comfort" or "encourage" them.

Again, like "teaching", this gift is often seen in those with public speaking ministries, so it’s not always easy to draw simple lines to say that one particular word was an "exhortation" while another was a "prophecy" while another was a "teaching". They all can overlap each other. In fact, exhortation is specifically a component in prophecy:

(1 Cor 14:3 KJV) But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

Barnabas was one of the chief "encouragers" of the Bible:

(Acts 4:36 NASB) And Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means, Son of Encouragement),

(Acts 11:22-24 KJV) Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. {23} Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. {24} For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

Barnabas was keeping the church moving in the direction of holding on to the Lord. He was the one who kept saying, "come on, you can do it, you can keep walking with Jesus!"

(Acts 14:21-22 KJV) And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, {22} Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Encouragement can be the exhortation to "keep going!". It does not have to be done by telling some kind of fairy tale either. Paul and Barnabas reminded the people that they would face many trials as Christians, but they also encouraged them to keep trusting in the Lord.


Different flavors

As with all of the gifts, there are different ways in which the gifts may be manifested.

(1 Cor 12:4-6 KJV) Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. {5} And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. {6} And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

Be careful not to think that when you’ve seen a gift in action, that this is the way that it must always be operated.

Some people with the gift of exhortation: Kay Smith, Pastor Romaine, David Carroll. They all have different kinds of ministries and different ways of encouraging others to action. Kay can be a gentle encourager, she can also be a cheerleader. Romaine is in your face, to the point, followed by a swift kick in the pants. David Carroll has such a soft spoken manner, yet when he’s done, you want to get up and respond. All have the gift of exhortation. All can move you to action.

Sometimes a person may have a gift of exhortation but they don’t have a public speaking gift. This is the person who is always trying to encourage others, who has an eye out for the sad and lonely ones. Don’t think that your gift needs to be just like another person’s gift.


The church needs exhortation.

There are many things that can slow us down as a group of believers, all of which can be helped with "exhortation".

Struggles with sin.

(Heb 3:12-14 KJV) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. {13} But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. {14} For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

We can fool ourselves with our own sin nature. We can just stop walking the walk. We need to be around others who will encourage us, people who will move us to action.

Too much sorrow.

(2 Cor 2:6-8 KJV) Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. {7} So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. {8} Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

Paul had administered discipline in the church at Corinth. But the person had repented from their sin and it was time to restore them back. Sometimes a little sorrow can be good medicine to a person’s walk. But too much sorrow can discourage a person and overcome them.

Heavy Trials.

(2 Cor 1:3-7 KJV) Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; {4} Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. {5} For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. {6} And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. {7} And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

God will often use the very things you’ve struggled with to encourage those around you. God’s desire is that we learn to receive His encouragement and comfort in our difficult times, and then that we be able to turn around and share it with others.


Love is the key.

(Col 2:1-2 KJV) For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; {2} That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

Our hearts are be comforted when we are "knit together in love".

It’s hard to receive exhortation, whether it’s encouragement to action, or comfort, if you don’t feel like the other person cares about you.

Love is the atmosphere that’s necessary for healthy encouragement to take place.

:8 he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity;

givethmetadidomi ("with" + "to give") – to impart

I have to confess that for most pastors, this is a gift that they can get a little too caught up in.

Let me say that I do believe that the gift of giving doesn’t have to be tied to how much money you have. It isn’t dependent on how much you have, but on how you give of what you have.

(Mark 12:41-44 NLT) Jesus went over to the collection box in the Temple and sat and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. {42} Then a poor widow came and dropped in two pennies. {43} He called his disciples to him and said, "I assure you, this poor widow has given more than all the others have given. {44} For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has."

A person with the gift of giving just wants to give. They want to give to others. It blesses them tremendously to give to others.


Dear Rev. Graham: You will probably never see this letter. I know, however, I feel compelled to write to you. I am twenty-eight years old, a victim of cerebral palsy since birth. I have never been able to use my hands. They flop about, getting in my way, breaking things, hitting people and behaving like naughty children. Everything I do is done with my feet. For example, I'm writing this with a ball-point pen between the toes of my left foot. The right foot isn't much good for anything except turning pages and walking. But that is beside the point. The point is that for many years I have made spending change and bought most of my clothes by selling the fancy needle work that I do.

The Lord has blessed me with many wonderful friends and I have most always found ready sale from my wares, but I am slow and the little money I make is soon gone. I do tithe my earnings but I have long wanted to do more. To be able to give to your Crusade has been an unattainable goal for several years. Because of my speech defect I cannot talk to people about our wonderful Savior or be a soul winner. I felt that through you I might repay a little of my debt to Christ. I am indeed thankful. It is with the greatest of joy that I sign the enclosed $10 check. I have high hopes that it will not be the last.

-- Eleanor A. Drath as Quoted in Daily Observations, Western Recorder, Middle Town, KY, Jan 15, 1959.

Paul has given specific instruction as to how this gift ought to be operated in the church (he doesn’t say, "just give"):

simplicityhaplotes – singleness, simplicity, sincerity, mental honesty; the virtue of one who is free from pretence and hypocrisy; not self seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity. It comes from aplouv is literally spread out without folds, and hence means single, simple, without complexity of character and motive.


No strings attached.

Sometimes people will offer to give you something, but you have to do something for them in return.


A guy from Tyson Foods arranges to visit the Pope. After receiving the papal blessing he whispers, "Your Eminence, do we have a deal for you. If you change The Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread....’ to ‘give us this day our daily chicken....’ we will donate $500 million dollars to the Church". The Pope responds saying, "That is impossible. The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be changed". "Well," says the Tyson man, "we are prepared to donate $1billion to the Church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread....’ to ‘give us this day our daily chicken...." Again the Pope replies "That is impossible. The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be changed". Finally, the Tyson guy says, "This is our last offer. We will donate $5 billion to the church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from give us this day our daily bread....’ to ‘give us this day our daily chicken....’" and he leaves. Next day the Pope meets with the College of Cardinals to say that he has good news and bad news. "The good news is that the Church has come into $5 billion". "The bad news is that we are losing The Wonderbread Account".

God’s desire is that when we give, we don’t expect anything in return.

:8 he that ruleth, with diligence;

rulethproistemi – to set or place before; to set over; to be over, to superintend, preside over

(1 Cor 12:27-28 KJV) Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. {28} And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

governmentskubernesis – from kubernao (of Latin origin, to steer); a governing, government

I see this as those individuals within the church that have the ability to lead and organize. We often have a great need for this gift in our church. Sometimes we have lots of ideas of what to do, but a person with "leadership" knows how to envision a project and see it through to completion.

diligencespoude – haste, with haste; earnestness, diligence; earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything. The word is also found in:

Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;


Leaders should be diligent.

In fact, diligence can lead to leadership:

(Prov 12:24 KJV) The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

(Prov 22:29 KJV) Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.


Shortly after he opened his first plant, Thomas Edison noticed that his employees were in the habit of watching the lone factory clock. To the inventor who was a tireless worker, this was incomprehensible. He did not indicate his disapproval verbally. Instead he had dozens of clocks placed around the plant, no two keeping the same time. From then on clock watching led to so much confusion that nobody cared what time it was.

Are you a "clock-watcher" or a hard worker? That may be the very factor that determines how much potential you have as a leader.

(Prov 27:23-27 KJV) Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. {24} For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? {25} The hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. {26} The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. {27} And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

God is looking for leaders who will be diligent. He wants them to be diligent to know how those under them are doing. If you take care of the things that are under your care, then you’ll see things flourish.

:8 he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

mercyeleeo – to have mercy on; to help one afflicted or seeking aid; to help the afflicted, to bring help to the wretched; to feel sympathy with the misery of another, esp. such sympathy as manifests itself in act, less freq. in word

The gift of mercy isn’t a sense of begrudging help. It is willing help.

The gift of "mercy" may be what is involved in those who have a heart to call on the sick, those who visit in hospitals or convalescent homes. It can be involved in ministries to handicapped folks. It can be involved in the "rescue missions", and ministries to the homeless. An example might be Mother Theresa, who founded the "Sisters of Mercy" in the Catholic Church, and who spent time with the most neediest people on the earth.

cheerfulnesshilarotes – cheerfulness, readiness of mind, it comes from hilaros – cheerful, joyous, prompt to do anything


Cheerful ministry.

Sometimes being "cheerful" isn’t appropriate.

(Prov 25:20 NASB) Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.

I think that the attitude we have when we come to help another person is important. Are we coming be we "have to", or is it because we have a concern and we want to help meet their need?