At That Time (Matthew 10:19-20)

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In Matthew 10:17, Jesus solemnly warned us that we would be handed over to human institutions (“they will hand you over to the local councils.”  He told us we would be publicly and physically abused by religious groups (“they will … flog you in their synagogues.”  He warned us that we would be “brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.”  He told us that such would happen “on His account.” Then He gave us a word of encouragement for that time, “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” 

Every preacher can tell you that most of the time they do concern themselves with what they will say, and also how they will say it. Good preparation of a testimony and careful consideration of how your message will be received is always prudent. The preacher speaks for God, so they should and must take care to ensure the words are what God would have for that group of people, at that point in time. Preaching His Word is a sacred and high responsibility. It cannot be taken so lightly as to not bother preparing! 

Of course there are times when you cannot prepare, on account of an unexpected opportunity. In such cases, the Word of God exhorts us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  In other words, it is required of the Christian that you are prepared, even when you haven’t had the time to properly prepare! Like a seasoned outdoorsman caught in a sudden storm, your prior training and character come to bear. You will be ok because of who you are as a person, even though you don’t have all the external tools you’d normally bring to such an occasion. 

For this reason, while not everyone is a learned preacher, every child of God knows that God uses them to speak to others from time to time. Occasionally, one’s words will be very literally the words of God to someone else, who will know that God has just spoken to them. That is why we share our testimonies, and a good part of the value of participating in small group Bible study. From each member of His body, we can hear God speaking to us. 

While that is occasionally true, Jesus tells us it is always true when the circumstance is one of forced testimony to someone in authority. If you squeeze a sponge, what it has absorbed comes out. Crisis always reveals character, and the more urgent the crisis the more raw the revelation of character is.

We can therefore know that the suffering God may call us into is never wasted. It is a testimony against those who dare to try to sit in judgment of the body of Christ. Moreover, we can know that every torturer, every ungodly judge, every dictator who persecutes the people of God – they have all heard from God and been given opportunity to repent. 

Even if what they heard, they heard through the duress of others.

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.

C.S. Lewis

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Let us be thankful that as long as we pursue God wholeheartedly, we need not worry about how we will react in the day of duress. In that moment He will give us exactly the right words to say that carry eternal impact.