The gift of exhortation in Romans 12:8 is translated "encouragement" by
Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (MacDonald).
Exhortation includes the ability to lift spirits and to give godly counsel.
The counseling aspect of this gift should be exercised only by someone who
has accumulated experience as a Christian, as well as a solid knowledge base
of the Bible.
Romans 12:6-8 (NIV) We have different gifts, according
to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in
proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching,
let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing
to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let
him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Acts 4:36-37 (NASB) Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth,
who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son
of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the
money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Acts 11:22-23 (NASB) The news about them reached the ears
of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when
he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage
them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord.
Acts 20:1-2 (NASB) After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent
for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them,
he left to go to Macedonia. When he had gone through those districts and
had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece.
Acts 13:15-16 (NASB) After the reading of the Law and
the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, "Brethren, if
you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.'' Paul stood up,
and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God,
listen.... 40-41 (NASB) Therefore take heed, so
that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you:: 'Behold,
you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; for I am accomplishing a work in your
days, a work which you will never believe, though someone should describe
it to you."
Acts 16:40 (NASB) They went out of the prison and entered
the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them
Phil 4:2 (NASB) I urge* Euodia and
I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.
* "Urge" literally means "exhort"
in this verse.