Luke 12:11-12 NIV
When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.
When we think about what it means to receive the Holy Spirit, we may be quick to think of God’s affection filling us (love), or God’s spiritual gifts operating through us (power). Both of these are vital aspects of the way the Holy Spirit works in and through us. Yet by taking our time, wandering with a discoverer’s eye through Old and New Testament revelations of God’s presence, we’re gaining a more fully-scoped vision of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. This will serve us as we follow Jesus in the love and power of the Holy Spirit today.
So what does Luke 12:11-12 teach us about the Holy Spirit?
Luke 12:11-12 is, in my view, a Holy Spirit word about inspiration (and its archnemesis, worry; but we’ll talk about that in a moment). Inspiration literally means to be “in-spirited,” or “breathed into.” It’s what happens when we, like the sail of a boat being filled with the wind, are in-spirited and moved by the Holy Spirit to do something, say something, or be something the moment requires.
In this passage, Jesus is speaking to his disciples about scary, safety-threatening situations they might find themselves in because of their faith. Those that can harm your body, or even shame or imprison you, according to the Lord of Heaven and Earth, are not to be feared. But still, he knows we will fear because we don’t see the future—we don’t know the outcome as we stand before the powers of this world that may prove to be merciless. In other words, we will always be tempted to worry.
Jesus is saying that one can choose not to give worry its sway (“do not worry”), and that the Holy Spirit will do the teaching, and ultimately, the talking when we are called to give an account for our faith. As a professional and card-carrying worrier most of my life, I’ve had to disown that unholy identity as I’ve walked with Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t worry. Jesus in me doesn’t worry. So I choose not to worry, and I am still learning how to put worry in the back seat even when it is always begging me to drive. I am learning to see it, name it, address it when it rears its head, and to let faith take the lead. To worry is to believe that God’s future is less real than the distorted future my mind is constructing. The people of God are not designed for worry. Worry will make us sick. The people of God are designed for faith. Faith will make us healthy.
Returning to our sailboat analogy, worry ties up our sail and keeps it twisted down tight so it can’t open up to catch the wind of inspiration. But when worry is ousted from our boat, we can then open up to God’s presence, even in turbulence, to be filled with inspiration in our moment of need.
The Holy Spirit is with us when we have time to plan what we need to say, whether we are giving an account of our faith behind a pulpit, on the front lawn with our neighbor, or in preparation to stand before a tribunal. Many brothers and sisters around the world are in this latter situation. Let’s pray for them. The Holy Spirit will also be with us, inspiring us, when any situation demands we give an extemporaneous articulation of our faith in Christ.
Either way, we as Christians are called to resist worry and its choking bonds. We are called to keep our sails open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will help us know what to say, what to do, in our time of need.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. I may have spent years practicing worry, but I want to spend the next years displacing worry in my life with faith. Come, Holy Spirit, empower me to live beyond worry and to rely on your inspiration in the challenging moments of today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Have you ever been in a situation where you believe the Holy Spirit gave you the words to speak, even when you had not planned what you were going to say? What happened as a result?
For the awakening,