The title of this post is taken from 1 Peter 3:15-16, which says, “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.”
A lot of Christians think about these verses in terms of giving your testimony, that is, sharing with someone how you came to saving faith in Jesus and the changes in your life since then. Don’t get me wrong; that is a very important first step, if you will. However, there’s much more to sharing your faith than giving your testimony. Sometimes the Lord brings people across our path that we have a chance to engage with about issues and big questions.
A pastor that I know (not mine) had such an opportunity a couple of years ago. He told about how he had been in a barber shop, waiting to get a haircut, when he overheard two other men talking about an important issue. It became obvious that neither one was a Christian, so he had an opportunity to share a Christian perspective. As this pastor was telling the story, my heart sank because I guessed what was coming next: he failed to share that perspective. The good news is that he realized later–and even somewhat in the moment–that he had failed. He succumbed to the fear of “offending” these other two men. However, more good news: he said that he would not fail the next time the Lord presented him with such an opportunity.
I couldn’t help thinking at the time of another story, this one involving a teacher that I know. He was attending a conference for ESL teachers, and one of the sessions he attended was about teaching argumentation in writing. The presenter, a teacher, shared how she had put students into groups to choose a topic from a list, discuss it, and then later write about it. Several groups chose to write against same-sex marriage, using the Bible as their primary, or in some cases only, support.
As the presenter spoke, the other teachers who were present, including my friend, chimed in with questions and comments. Some questioned whether the Bible was a legitimate source for students to use since:
- We supposedly don’t even know who wrote it;
- It supposedly says nothing against homosexuality;
- It supposedly condones slavery, stoning of children, and wife-beating.
In a matter-of-fact way, my friend refuted Number 2 by quoting Scripture (a self-proclaimed lesbian asked him to do so). Specifically, he quoted a portion of Romans 1:26-27, which she attentively listened to and didn’t argue with. He also refuted the last part of Number 3, noting that wife-beating comes from the Qur’an, not the Bible. (He didn’t have time to refute everything!) He also said that students should be allowed to use the Bible as a source, but that they should also have other sources; however, since same-sex marriage had been in existence for a mere five-six years at that time (and not in the U.S. yet), he said that it was a difficult topic to argue either for or against in terms of, for example, the effects it has on the children of homosexual couples. Given another three to four decades, it would be much easier to argue for or against it.
I tell this second story to give an example of what I Peter 3:15-16 tells us to do. If my friend had instead spoken about how he came to saving faith in Jesus, it would have been inappropriate; these people needed to hear the truth of God’s Word in response to their misconceptions about it. Note that in order to refute these misconceptions, my friend had to know the Bible. I hope that each of us who claims to be a Christian is regularly in the Word so that we can always be prepared to give an answer.
6 thoughts on “Always Be Prepared to Give an Answer”
This was very good, it reveals how are “fleshly hearts” do so often let us down, and the Lord. However, this is to teach us that we need to allow Him to cleanse us from this fleshly heart, and allow HIM to give us the Power to speak the truth and testify of Him. Also I need to state that sometimes there will be no speaking, these “men” did not ask him, his views, so I have learned NOT to interject unless asked. Many time when I interjected my thoughts through other’s conversation, they would respond, “who asked you”? I stood corrected. Now if they were supposedly Christian and said something that was NOT supported by scripture then we must address it publicly and stand our ground.
I also would like to share that this scripture also pertains to how Christians addressing what other Christians believe and teach, when asked why they believe is a “false” doctrine or push an incorrect narrative, they are here instructed to give an answer. Many “so-called chirstian” bloggers here do NOT do any such thing. What they do is they Censor you and/or do not approve your comment.
Thank you for the article….
Lord bless you.
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You’re right that “sometimes there will be no speaking.” However, in this case, it was clear that the pastor realized he should have spoken up.
I appreciate your response.
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Thank you. It is the “pastor’s” responsibility to know if he failed the Lord or not.
However, I noticed you have not addressed the rest of my comment is that because you do not agree, and if so, the Lord does desire us to make it known. Otherwise to “ignore it” is not a healthy nor Godly response.
I responded to the part that was of greater interest to me. Regarding whether the I Peter passage also applies to believers who disagree with one another: I don’t believe so because of the phrase “for the hope that you have.” Christians all have the same hope, but someone who doesn’t have that hope may be curious enough to ask you questions about your peaceful demeanor and/or your faith.
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I agree that it’s not a good idea to enter into a conversation uninvited or to offer your point of view if not asked. However, I have on occasion prayed silently that if I am to say something, the door would open, and it does. If someone else is making the case for the biblical view, I’ll pray for that person as (s)he is talking.
(I remember being told that when witnesses go out two at a time, as Jesus instructed, one can talk while the other prays silently. I like that idea.)
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In the case of the pastor, he realized that he should have spoken up, and I agree. However, as you have alluded to, that is not always the best course of action in that situation. Also, I hadn’t thought before about when witnesses go out two at a time, as the 72 did in Luke 10; I also like the idea of one praying while the other is talking.
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