There are no lone ranger Christians in the body of Christ. All believers have the responsibility to encourage one another daily: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12–13, NKJV).
In the original language, the verb translated “exhort” in Hebrews 3:13 means “to earnestly support or encourage a response or action.” It comes from the Greek noun paraklésis, which refers to the calling of someone alongside to help or encourage. The word is related to the name Jesus gave to the Holy Spirit—Paraclete, which means “Helper.” The apostle Paul uses this same Greek word in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (NLT).
As Christians, we are called to develop close relationships, walking beside one another, strengthening each other in the faith, and encouraging continued spiritual growth. Christian exhortation carries the idea of stirring or motivating fellow believers to action (see Romans 12:1–2). One of the primary ways we can exhort one another daily is through real-life, one-on-one, rubber-meets-the-road involvement in each other’s lives. Later in Hebrews, the author writes, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25). We can’t exhort one another daily if we aren’t in daily fellowship with other believers.
Paul prayed for an opportunity to see the believers in Rome, writing, “For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours” (Romans 1:11–12, NLT). Mutual exhortation is the main purpose of Christian fellowship (see 1 Thessalonians 2:11–12; 1 Timothy 4:13). In Acts 11:22–23, the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas (whose name means “son of encouragement/exhortation”) to inspire and fortify the believers in Antioch: “When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:23).
Christians exhort one another daily through the exercise of spiritual gifts. In Romans 12:3–8, Paul teaches that, as members of Christ’s body, we all belong to each other and, therefore, need one another. Out of the abundance of His grace, God gives us different gifts to build one another up. Indeed, one of these spiritual gifts is exhortation (verse 8). Paul urges the Corinthians to seek to excel in the gifts “that will strengthen the whole church” (1 Corinthians 14:12). If we separate ourselves from the body, we will miss out on these gifts. In isolation, we leave ourselves vulnerable to temptation and spiritual attacks (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12). But when we stand alongside one another, we have great strength to overcome our enemy, the devil (1 Peter 5:9). Together we can better support one another in the spiritual battle (Galatians 6:1).
Prayer is another way we can exhort one another daily. Paul gives us many examples of faith-building prayers (Ephesians 6:18–20; 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17; Romans 15:5–6; Colossians 1:10–12). We can also exhort one another daily by speaking words of life and truth (Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; Romans 15:4). Our words hold tremendous power both to destroy and to restore lives (Proverbs 18:21). Paul cautions us to speak only what will build up and benefit others: “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” (Ephesians 4:29).
Paul’s protégé Timothy was tasked as a young pastor with the responsibility of exhorting his flock through preaching and teaching of God’s Word, correcting, rebuking, and exhorting “with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2; see also 1 Timothy 4:13). While pastors have a unique obligation to exhort the body of Christ (Hebrews 13:7, 17), every Christian ought to look out for fellow believers who might be struggling in the faith. We are all called to come alongside one another for mutual encouragement, instruction, comfort, and support in our daily Christian walk (1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Corinthians 1:4).