Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
Exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Concerning our wayward brethren, God says to exhort them: 'To give urgent advice, recommendations, or warnings' (Random House Dictionary). Similarly, we are told to 'admonish' (gently caution) and correct one another.
'Yet this duty is greatly neglected. In what church is it performed? How often do church members see a fellow member go astray without any exhortation or admonition!' (Barnes Notes on the Bible re: Hebrews 3:13). If Albert Barnes lived in the 19th century, how much greater is this neglect today? *
Our 21st century world tells us to feel good. It's our right. We should pursue it. We should purchase it. It's in a bag, bottle, wallet, role, group or place. Other people have the same right. Certainly, we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Assent is easier. Say yes or say nothing at all.
Is our 21st century church following suit? Within the fellowship of faith, do we avoid urgent advice, wise recommendations, gentle warnings or kind corrections? Can we feel good and fear God at the same time? Are we too right to be wrong? Are we pursuing happiness or holiness? Can we do both?
Actors, models and talent for Christ: consider your priorities:
1) 'Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you' (Matthew 6:33). In other Words, His 'Blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God' (Deuteronomy 28:2), 'Who delights in the prosperity of His servant' (Psalm 35:27). The key? Seek Him first, not 'feel good' substitutes.
2) Within the fellowship of faith, your job includes 'Teaching and admonishing one another...' (Colossians 3:16). If 'The Lord disciplines the one He loves...' (Hebrews 12:6), consider correction a blessing. 'Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently' (Galatians 6:1).
3) Concerning the people of the world, Paul says, 'What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?' (1 Corinthians 5:12). To them, you are talented and kind messengers of good news. When they choose to receive God's grace, His Holy Spirit will begin their transformation. Until then, 'Do not correct a scoffer' (Proverbs 9:8), or an outsider.
To Be Continued...
* Commentaries on Hebrews 3:13: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/hebrews/3-13.htm
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Leadership series.