What would you do if you were wrongly accused of a crime? You’re on trial and about to appear before a judge and jury with your testimony of events. How would you respond? What steps would you take to be prepared to testify?
I’m an organized, to-do-list kind of girl. So I would probably have a binder full of documents, pieces of evidence, and whatever else I needed to present my case fully to the jury. I would be as prepared as a person possibly could be.
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Peter actually addressed this very issue:
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. – 1 Peter 3:13-16
To say that the early church was greatly persecuted is a vast understatement. Paul was put on trial, persecuted, and imprisoned throughout his ministry. He was even stoned at one point and dragged outside the city assumed to be dead. (Acts 14:19-20) The church was “eager to do good” but often suffered for their choice to follow Christ and spread His message. In the midst of being threatened, Peter tells them to be prepared to share their reason for hope. And not with anger or force, but with gentleness and respect.
I’m not sure what I would need to be prepared for most – having an answer to give or speaking that answer in truth and love.
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. – 2 Timothy 4:2-5
Again, we see Paul encouraging Timothy to be prepared to share. And not just share, but to do so carefully and with patience. He even reminds him to “sober.” Or in other words, to keep his head clear in all situations.
In order to be prepared to share the truth, we must be willing to study the truth as well as apply the truth to our own lives. In this way, we are able to share the truth in love.
We share the truth the same way Jesus did – love first and teach second. The two cannot be separated.
It’s not enough to know the Bible well. In order to teach others, we have to be living examples of what the Bible teaches. That’s why it’s so important to not only be in the Word but to also be spending time with God in prayer.
As followers of Jesus, we must be prepared. Our words alone won’t suffice as evidence for Christ, rather the best evidence involves our actions and unconditional love for others. The world can argue our words, but there’s no arguing a life filled with good deeds and love for the world.
It’s not enough to know the Word; we have to live the Word. And the best way to live the Word is to know it well. The two go hand-in-hand.
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*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.