Daily Exhorting--Need and Benefit
"12 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; 15 While it is said, To day
if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For
some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt
by Moses.17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that
had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?18 And to whom sware he that
they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?19 So we see
that they could not enter in because of unbelief. 4:1 Let us therefore fear,
lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem
to come short of it."
God tells us in our text, to be involved in exhorting. That is for each of us who are Christians to be involved in doing. There is a need that this be engaged in by each of us, and we should be appreciative of the fact that we are commissioned to do this. Likewise we surely should be glad when others do it to us. We should appreciate the fact that we have people who care enough to express their concern, as directed by our Creator and Governor of the universe and us all How wonderful it is to be a part of this great family of God (Eph. 3:15)! We have the need to be exhorted!
Reason For the NEED to Heed!
First, the need is because God tells us to. We understand when He instructs us to do something, then it is GOOD for us. There is a need, even if we do not SEE the need, immediately, faith demands that we accept it as being needed, because God knows all and really cares for our eternal well being. What ever He tells us to do or refrain from doing is right, profitable for us, because He is always working for our good (Cf. Deut. 6:24).
Secondly, Because ó there is a danger of developing hardness of heart! Hardness of hard is the result of unbelief, and ends in departing from God (V. 12)! One who doesnít recognize the dangers in life is not going to survive for very long! An active faith is required, to inter into a saved relationship with God, as well as to maintain that relationship!
Thirdly, Because -- Sin is deceitful! It promises much pleasure, but it actually delivers misery. It never provided what it promises, genuine satisfaction. Rather in time it brings misery, heartache, and ultimately eternal destruction (Cf. Rom. 6:23). It always promised things much different from what it produces. The person who commits sin is always under a delusion! And the longer one commits such, the harder his/her heart gets; the less sensitive it become to being pricked by the word of God. As the Christian looks around and see how sin does in fact deceive people, bring them into the valley of degradation and destruction while promising them pleasure and prosperity, we should hate the matter of sin (Cf. 1 Jn. 3:4; 5:17; Jas. 4:17; Rom. 14:23; 6:23; Isa. 59:1-2).
We are capable of being deceived, IF we donít keep watch out! However, we need not be, IF we will be wise, alert, and resist (1 Pet. 5:8-9; Jas. 4:7). We have the word, that tells us of the danger, and provides incentives to keep our eyes opened and our ears tuning to the sounds around us. Also, as the text directs us -- be involved and good receivers, appreciative when our brothers and sisters assist us in encouragement.
The Benefit of such --The exhorted and exhorter!
All of us need to be exhorting. First look at the times word is used in New Testament (34 time in some form). Consider a few of the passages are: (Acts 2:40; 11:23; 14:22; 18:27; 27:22; 2 Cor. 9:5; 1 Thess. 4:1)
The Word is often translated "encourage" etc. "3874. paraklesis, par-ak'-lay-sis; from G3870; imploration, hortation, solace: --comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty."
We all need to be encouraged. Let us be realistic -- we all need it donít we. We get discouraged by various things that we face. We feel weak at times, and may be tempted to not fight back, tell ourselves, "whatís the use" of trying nobody is interested, or the cause is not worth the fight. Perhaps the evil one gets us to thinking we are fighting a losing battle, like the prophet Elijah concluded (1 Kings 19:4ff).
If we have somebody to challenge our thinking, there are always GOOD to see, IF weíll turn our eyes and focus our mind in the right direction! We need to point others in that direction. There are times when each of us need to be pointed in that direction. When there are those who will do that for us, how profitable such is!
Thus the benefit of one another helping each is so great! We need to recognize that and thus appreciate the fact that the Lord gives us the instruction to be engaged in such and have brethren as exhorters and being exhorted!
Look at the example he refers to:
The people brought from Egypt. How many reached the promise land? Only two out of six hundred thousand! Isnít that such a small percentage. Why so few of that great number who had been blessed so greatly actually reached the promised land? That prepared for them by the Lord, having been promised to their father Abraham! What a great blessing was available to them for the taking, and they failed.
Why did they fail? -- It was because of unbelief. That should be a lesson to us, right! To be busy exhorting, encouraging, pointing to blessings of the faithful. Such needs to be out in the forefront of our mind continuously. Let us be willing to be exhorted! Let us not forget to be engaged in exhorting.
The Hebrew writer states we should Fear (4:1) of coming short! As we can look back and evaluate the tragic results of Those six hundred thousand, who had seen Godís power illustrated in opening up the Red Sea, allowing them to walk through on dry land. Yet, in a shot time they became focused on difficulties, the negative side of the march, journey. These occupied their minds and they because complainers, looking for things to grip about, and they found many. So, will we today, if we allow the evil one to control our mind. However, if we will follow the inspired apostle to direct us, weíll not have the time to spend on the difficulties, instead weíll be looking at the good:
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." (Phil. 4;8-9). Beloved, let us look to the promise: "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2:10).
Conclusion: Beloved we all have the same amount of time in each day. How do we use it? Exhorting and being, or complaining, ignoring the good and focusing on evil?
1. Child of God?
History tells us -- provides us a picture -- of how people who received so must, suffered and died short of a wonderful goal, due to unbelief and resulting behavior!
1. Having been delivered from Egypt, and they were on their way to a promised land, yet fell in wilderness -- 40 years wandering ó when they could have been in the land enjoying its fruits!
2. One can/should learn from history, but many donít!
3. Let us not be among them!
Let us be involved in exhorting each other daily!
By William C. Sexton
From Expository Files 11.1; January, 2004