[This is part of a series of sermons on the topic of “One Another”. To access previous messages, please click here.]
The words, “respect your elders” may not be in scripture, but they certainly are a principle to live by. This is the encouragement in 1 Timothy 5:21. Not only should we respect our elders, we should have a reverence for them. We should treat the elder among us with gentility and cordiality. This is all done in the love of the Savior and out of obedience to His command.
We are exhorted to excellence in God as part of a single body of Christ to encourage one another to excellence. Today, we consider how this exhortation and encouragement is doled out from one believer to another.
We will look at two scriptures today, Hebrews 3:13, and also Hebrews 10:25. When we consider these verses the key to understanding them is in the use of the words “exhort” and “encourage” and the purpose that Paul has in mind when he uses them. There are some very interesting parallels to these words in our text today. Consider with me these ideas of exhorting and encouraging one another.
There is an old saying that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. This is very true. A part of this is missing, though. What is not mentioned are all the times you have to urge the horse on, all the times you have to give the horse support and hope that there is water to come. You cannot convince one to drink, but you actually have to work to lead them to refreshment. That is a task in itself.
Today we consider how we can best understand the task of leading the horse to the pond or oasis. Today we will also consider how we watch out for one another and lead one another to become more Christlike. We are a brotherhood of saints who are given to minister to one another (1 Pet 2:5). We are also given to one another and commanded to honor and love one another, other people and our government (1 Pet 2:17). Scripture leaves us no quarter for rebellion, and you have other brothers and sisters about you to help lead you to submission. It is not an easy task because some believers are as stubborn as donkeys. They will sit on their hind haunches and die of dehydration rather than come to an assembly and be fed by the word of God. Still, we should encourage them.
Yesterday we met a man who, I believe, loved God. However, his focus was improperly placed. When he discovered I was a pastor, he immediately addressed a tax situation concerning “501 c3” exemption status. His outlook was extremely cynical and harsh concerning the corporate establishment under “501 c3.” A question I frequently ask these people is, “How is your witnessing life?” We eventually got to that but there was a great anger in him concerning the supposed conspiracy associated with “501 c3” status and the government’s efforts to press tolerance behaviors. This is essentially an argument for, “can’t we just all get along.” The relativism of our world is trying to say everyone is right in their own mind. However, scripture says,
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” (Rom 1:21-23)
In many ways, this is what we are to guard against with one another. This individual yesterday had a bold witness and was, I believe, strenuously attempting to exhort and encourage me as a pastor to remain separate from the world. Bless his heart for loving us enough to be that witness. However, his polemic can be taken as a strong affront. Further, he is not with a body of believers where he can be encouraged and receive exhortation to a better and more loving witness. The “bull in the china shop” approach is not as effective as we may think it is. The bull can push the horse to water, but the horse still has to want to go there, and has to want to take water when he gets there.
We mentioned the word “exhort.” The word is “parakaleō” and it means either verbal or non-verbal encouragement. The word is used when you encourage someone to accept hospitality. We could say “to request” but that is not strong enough. Another sense of this word is earnestness or propriety. There are standards one may be encouraged to follow. Equally, it has a consoling tenor that indicates a loving manner in the earnest plea. There is no huff or gruff demeanor about the one who encourages. This is our word “parakaleō” which comes from two words, “para” which indicates something more than or greater than (we might say going a step further) and “kaleō,” meaning to call. This is a call for the believers to take one step further in their work with and among one another. We must do so properly and in a fashion that pleases our Lord. What is that fashion? We answer that question today.
This is where we are at today. Helping others want to go to the water as a place of refreshment and to drink when they get there. Continue reading