Persuasion Through Love

Correction is best served with kindness, patience, and concern for the other person’s well-being.

2 Timothy 4:1-3

Yesterday, we saw what it means to serve others. Today, let’s look at another spiritual gift—and here, too, Paul offers a simple definition: He says we exhort “in the work of exhortation” (Romans 12:8). The word comes from the Greek term parakaleó, which means “to call to or for,” “to encourage,” and even “to beg or entreat.”

Perhaps the best way to grasp what this word means is to look at it in action. In verse 2 of today’s passage, for instance, Paul tells Timothy, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and exhort, with great patience and instruction.” Timothy was called to stay true to the faith and to teach others how to follow Christ.

It’s not fun to be corrected—or to do the correcting. But sometimes it’s necessary. How those words are delivered is just as essential as what’s said. That’s where parakaleó comes in. It’s as if Paul is telling Timothy, “Say what needs saying, but do it in a way that encourages your brothers and sisters. Speak kindly to them, call them away from sin, and invite them back to God’s grace.”

An exhorter, in short, is someone who persuades lovingly—who reproves with an eye toward the other person’s spiritual good. It’s a high calling indeed and an invaluable service to the church as a whole.