They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith. 

“Exhort.” It’s not the most common word used today, but exhortation is central to our calling as disciples of Christ. To exhort someone means to strongly urge them in some way. In the case of our Christian walk, it means encouraging one another “to persevere in the faith,” just as Paul and Barnabas did for the people they had evangelized on their first missionary journey (Acts 14:22).

Christian exhortation requires a delicate balance of positive encouragement and constructive criticism, all handled with such love and grace that the listener doesn’t feel discouraged. Generally, this isn’t something you do with a casual acquaintance. You only offer encouragement like this to friends you know and trust—people whom you have shared your life with and who have shared their lives with you.

The truth is, God would like all of us to have close friendships like this that are rooted in our common faith and love for him. He wants to see all his children have brothers and sisters in Christ who are willing to help each other grow in holiness.

Perhaps you already have one or two close friends like this. If so, thank the Lord for them and treasure them! If not, ask God to send you a brother or sister who can fulfill this role in your life. Or better yet, look at your friends and see if there are any with whom you can begin to build such a relationship.

Is there someone you feel comfortable sharing your faith with? Start by sharing your thoughts on that Sunday’s homily or letting them know that you are praying for them. You might also ask if there are any specific intentions you can pray for. Or share your own prayer intentions with them.

Jesus told his disciples, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Imagine the impact we could have on this world if we all grew to love and exhort each other in Christ!

“Lord, help me deepen my friendships with my brothers and sisters so that we can help each other grow closer to you.”

Psalm 145:10-13, 21
John 14:27-31
Acts 14:19-28


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