but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
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)
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As believers, you and I are called to be salt and light. We are called to represent Jesus in the everyday rhythms of life. When you became a Christian, Jesus called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Then he sent you back into the darkness to shine. There are many ways the Bible talks about this:
- The prophet Isaiah said, "Here am I. Send me (Isaiah 6:8)."
- Jesus said, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19)."
- The apostle Paul said, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20)."
One of the primary tasks of every believer is to live in such a way that those who do not know Jesus would want to follow him.
In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter says, "In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." Notice what Peter tells us to defend; it's not what you might expect. You might expect him to say "defend the truth" or "defend Jesus," but that's not actually what he says. He tells us to defend the hope that's in us. In other words, we should live so that people see hope radiating from our lives. We should be prepared at any moment to speak of the hope we have in Jesus.
I love what comes next. Peter says, "Yet do this with gentleness and respect." When we think about defending something or someone, we often think of harsh or heated interactions. But this is precisely the opposite of what we are called to as Christians. Instead, we are to represent Jesus (defend the hope within us) with a spirit of gentleness. Tim Keller says, "When you share the gospel, share it in such a way that when you're done, even if they don't believe, they wish it were true." Too often, the thing that turns people away from Jesus isn't the gospel message but the gospel messengers. Peter warns us against that and encourages us to live a life that makes the gospel message beautiful. I hope that we can be people who embody gentleness as we boldly share and declare the hope that we have in Jesus.
- To those who are hurting, let’s speak words of healing.
- To those who are skeptical, let’s kindly share our hope.
- To those who are struggling, let’s selflessly offer help.
- To those who are lost, let’s show how they can be found.
- To those who are hardened, let’s pray that our gentleness breaks hearts of stone.
We have the most incredible privilege in the world — to be salt and light to those around us. We have the opportunity to bring hope to a world that desperately needs it. This week, let's live in a way that makes our hope in Jesus known. Let's move towards people with gentleness and respect.
Written By: Nick Harsh
Nick Harsh (MDiv, Clarks Summit University) is a ministry leader with The Salt Company, a ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. While publishing regularly at nickharsh.com, his writing has also been featured at The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Relevant Magazine.