“But in your hearts set apart 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
Recently, we experienced the unexpected death of an older man in my husband’s home church who thankfully was a strong Christian. Then just today, I found out about the sudden passing of my 6th and 7th grade teacher (I’m from a really small town) who I hadn’t seen in years. Sadly, I was going to send her a Christmas card last year, but forgot. It made me think about the importance of communicating with others. This applies to sharing memories, holiday greetings, and especially sharing Christ. Many times we put off sharing words with others, especially when that involves faith. We are afraid of rejection, tongue-tied, and unsure of what words will best describe our Christian life to others who may be unfamiliar with the concept.
These verses, written by the apostle Peter long ago, exhort us to not only set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts, but to always be prepared to give an answer for our joy and hope. Sometimes that means being prepared when someone asks you a question out of the blue. Other times it means writing a letter or calling and talking to someone about Jesus when you feel as though they need to hear about Him. Simply speaking each day about the impact God has in our lives, whether to complete strangers, family or friends, brings glory to Him.
Notice the words gentleness and respect in these verses. Last week I wrote at length about meekness (gentleness); respect is “to show regard or consideration for (someone).”
When you speak about the Lord, do so with kindness, being understanding of the fact that others may not agree with you or see the reasons for such a bold faith. Pray for the right words to say, “so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” Remember that God honors speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Pray for the courage to share your faith with someone new today! Do not delay in letting others know about the joy and peace you have found in Christ! I will never get the opportunity to share the news about my family or God with my wonderful junior high teacher, Mrs. Knutt. Certainly she may be rejoicing in Heaven with Jesus now! But this is a great reminder to me that time is of the essence, as we cannot know when the last chance to share the truths of God’s Word with someone we care about will have passed us by.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6