“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.” – 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
If you’ve ever witnessed a formal debate, you’ll notice that its participants are prepared and well-researched. But unfortunately, you’ll also see arrogance and hateful attitudes. God calls the Christian to excel in the former, but stay clear of the later. A prideful heart and contentious spirit have no place in the defense of the faith. The purpose of contending for the faith is not to win an argument, but rather to usher in salvation.
“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;”(New American Standard Bible)
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”(KJV)
“But hallow THE LORD JEHOVAH The Messiah in your hearts, and be ready to return a defense to everyone who requests a statement from you about the hope of your faith, in meekness and in reverence,”(Aramaic Bible in plain English)
Meaning of the verse
As followers of Christ we often are asked to explain our reason for our faith and/or are condemned because of it.
This verse reminds us to defend our faith, not deny it as the disciple Peter did on the night of Jesus’ arrest.
However, how we explain or defend our faith should also be done in a gentle way.
Jesus gave all of his followers a mission, commonly called “the great commission,” telling us to:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
– Matthew 28:19
A big problem is that when it comes to defending one’s faith, many Christians get defensive about it. They turn it into judgment against the other person, which tends to only drive that person away from Christ. Clearly, Christ instructed us to be a loving example.
We need to explain why we believe in Christ, why we have faith, the joy of His love, and all the benefits of being one with Christ.
We shouldn’t be having a discussion with someone else that is accusatory, judgmental and intolerant of them or their current beliefs. Our goal is to convert– not condemn.
We also need to remember Christ’s instructions to have love for one another (John 13:34-35). We need to follow the Apostle Paul’s instructions to “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ,”(1 Corinthians 11:1-2), as well as, outdoing one another in showing honor to each other (Romans 12:10) by being respectful to other people.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
2 Timothy 2:25
He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.