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 3:15-16
These verses can be spilt into two different parts: (1) the command to revere Christ as Lord and (2) the command to be ready answer anyone questions about our hope with gentleness and respect. In the first part Peter calls for an inner reverence for, commitment to and dependence on Christ as Lord that is always willing and ready to speak for him and to explain your faith faith in him to others. This means that we must know Christ and God’s Word in order to rightly witness for Christ and lead others to him.
In the second part we are commanded to always be prepared/ready to answer questions about the reason for our hope with gentleness and respect. The word Peter used for “prepared” is the Greek word that means “ready, willing and equipped” and is like the Hebrew word “kun,” which carries the idea of being firm, stable, secure and enduring. This suggests being in a constant readiness to meet any challenge that comes along. Other Greek and Hebrew synonyms for these words found in Scripture include the idea of being “swift, prompt and responsive.” These ideas all tie in with Peter’s encouragement, “Do not fear; do not be frightened” (v. 14), as he speaks of believers’ readiness to talk about what Christ has done for them.
You as a follower of Christ must be ready to speak about your hope in Christ because you never know when you might encounter someone who is in need of hope and ready to hear about Jesus. If you live, act and speak in ways that reflect hope and a positive difference, people are likely to ask you about it at some point. Even people who are skeptical or give you a hard time about your faith may confront you with questions. You must be prepared (1) “give an answer”-to know WHAT to say, which comes from a close relationship with Jesus and a commitment to knowing his Word; (2) “for the hope that you have”-to know WHO you are in your relationship with Christ, which will cause people to see a difference in you and perhaps ask about it in an effort to find hope in their own lives; (3) “with gentleness and respect”-to know HOW to respond to questions or challenges about your faith, which is vital in reflecting Christ’s love and character.
It is absolutely imperative when speaking about spiritual things-particularly about the hope you have found in Christ-to “do this with gentleness and respect.” Most people will resist an arrogant, harsh response that is presented as an argument. Such an approach is unconvincing because it feeds into the misconception that followers of Christ are rude and defensive. By being respectful, we are more likely to be heard and perhaps we can influence unbelievers to consider the claims of Christ for themselves. In addition, we reflect Christ’s character when we show kindness.
Today’s Bible Readings:
2 Chronicles 1-3, Romans 6, Psalm 16:1-11 and Proverbs 19:20-21
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