“When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This is a really encouraging verse, but an often misunderstood one. Jesus is promising to have our back when we put ourselves on the line for His sake and find ourselves in the hot seat because of it. He is not telling us that we can be lazy when it comes to preparing for the possibility that we might find ourselves there.
The thing is, we don’t know when or if we’ll ever find ourselves in the hot seat because of our faith. But, we cannot take Jesus’ assurance that God will give us the words to say as license to not bother to prepare.
Too often over the years some folks have taken this as reason to not learn about the faith, to not study theology. Their argument has been that doing so would be unfaithful to what Jesus says here and display of a lack of trust in the Spirit’s ability and willingness to give us the words to say in a situation such as this.
This is exactly the wrong approach to Jesus’ words here. Jesus is talking about situations in which we find ourselves hauled before some cultural or political authority and suddenly having to make a defense of our faith without getting any kind of a chance to prepare. In this situation, He will miraculously feed us the words we need to say. For all the rest of the time, we have to learn the old fashioned way. Let’s get to it.