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.
Peter actually addressed this very issue:
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. – 1 Peter 3:13-16 (NIV)
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 prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. – 2 Timothy 4:2-5 (NIV)
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 “keep his head.”
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.
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