“Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, bear with my message of exhortation” (Hebrews 13:22).
One thing a disciple must learn to do is bear with messages of exhortation. This word “bear” means to listen but to also put up with. The idea is that we are always in a place where we are willing to hear what we need to hear and not always what we want to hear. The author of Hebrews has some very hard and tough things to say to the recipients of this letter, and yet these truths are necessary, for they are exactly what they need in order to stay on track spiritually and keep making progress. Otherwise, if they do not have these principles, they will continue to go backwards spiritually and their lives will be filled with heartache and pain. These hard truths are some good and needed medicine that can spiritually heal them, but it may not taste very good as it goes down. The concern is, as they read and reread this letter, that they will become defensive and the walls will go up around them, preventing this much needed truth from penetrating their lives and producing a positive effect.
This attitude of bearing with exhortation is really the main theme of the first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs. “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). According to the author of Proverbs, there is never a lack of wisdom from God providing people the best way to live and navigate life. The problem is that the majority of people will not positively respond, listen to, or bear with the wisdom that God gives. They have a better idea. This is why there is such an emphasis on listening in the early chapters of Proverbs. Here are just a few examples: Proverbs 1:5, 8; 2:1-2; 4:1, 10, 20; 5:1, 7. The portrait of a fool from the book of Proverbs isn’t one that is unintelligent or uneducated. The “fool” from God’s perspective is the person who won’t listen; “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). They won’t listen to God or the sound and godly advice and counsel of others. They will not bear with exhortation. Their plan is always the best plan and there is no other way to do something other than their way. Learning to listen is an essential piece of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let’s remember that a key component is a willingness to follow, and one will see little value in following anything or anyone who is a fool. The wise are always listening.
Let us listen to God today. He may be speaking to us about things we need to hear, so let’s bear with His exhortation.