Exhortation: Why We Need It and Why We Need to Do It

I met my husband, Dave Meyer, when I was twenty-three. At the time, I was washing my parents' car. Apparently, he liked what he saw, because he called out to me, "Hey, when you're finished washing that car, will you wash mine?" My response was, "If you want your car washed, wash it yourself!" Later he told me that when I said that, he immediately thought, That's the girl for me! We had five dates and then he asked me to marry him. I said yes, but I didn't really know what love is.

Most of my life, up to that point, had been filled with abuse – sexual, emotional, mental, and physical. So I was not a happy person, and in fact, I couldn't remember ever being happy in my life. I didn't trust anybody or feel like I had any value. I didn't have God's love in me and wasn't equipped to give love to anyone. I needed mega doses of God's love but didn't know how to receive love from God, so He put someone in my life to help me.

I believe we live in a love-starved society. Everywhere you go there are probably people who haven't had the right kind of love in their lives. This makes them insecure and fearful, like I was. Many addictions are the result of this lack of love – people feel empty, feel emotional pain, think they are worthless, and they are desperate for relief. It's very painful to feel that you are worthless and have no purpose in life.

But God wants to put someone in their lives who can love them into wholeness. Ephesians 5:1,2, says, Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance (The Amplified Bible).

How do we imitate God? We walk in love.

One way we show God's love and help them feel valuable is by building people up and edifying them. This happens as we lay down our lives to make other people feel good about themselves, and sometimes we have to go out of our way to do it. Sincere words are important, but words without action are cheap. Really showing love requires more than just words.

Remember that God wants to use you – He wants you to be of value on this earth. And as we receive His love and trust Him to meet all of our needs, we will be strong in the Lord and able to give His love away. We can be exhorters, edifying and building people up.

Exhort means "to urge a person forward." Everybody needs to be exhorted and encouraged – it makes them feel valuable. I know I never would have gotten where I am today without people encouraging me. God doesn't call us to do things by ourselves. And reaching out to others makes you strong. I want to encourage you to let God use you to build up people around you.

There are many ways to make people feel valuable and encouraged:

• Talk to them with kind, gentle voice tones.
• Don't magnify people's faults; focus on their good qualities.
• Respond with a positive comment when someone says something negative about someone you know.
• Tell people they are important to you, both with words and the way you treat them.
• Pray for people.
• Pay attention to what others like/want/need and then get it for them if you can and God gives you permission to do it.
• Return phone calls and emails promptly.
• Remember birthdays, anniversaries and other special events.
• If you know someone who has endured a tragedy, ask them how they're doing.
• Be a good listener.
• Get people to talk about themselves and show that you're interested in them.

Be determined to walk in love by exhorting others. Each day, make this declaration: "I'm an exhorter! I'm going to build people up because that's what love does!"