Give A Reason for the Hope that is in you:
“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 NIV
The simple answer is that the reason for the hope that is in us is Jesus. He is dwelling inside us through the Holy Spirit and this gives us hope. The rest of the story is – how did He come to live inside you? It is your testimony. Most of us tend to minimize the impact of our testimony. Either we feel we weren’t bad enough for it to be interesting or maybe we were too bad and we think people would look down on us. Either way, is incorrect. A personal testimony of coming to faith in Jesus is powerful.
Revere Christ and Be Prepared
Paul starts verse 15 by encouraging us to revere Christ as Lord in our hearts. The key word is “Lord.” He is the leader, the King, the Lord of our lives. Then Paul states that we need to be ready to give an answer. Have you ever given your testimony in a group or to another person? If not, it would be a good idea to think about what you would say. It is good to look back and remember the day your life changed. Think about it so that you would be ready to tell someone why you have hope.Click To Tweet
It doesn’t have to be a sermon. What you say can be as simple as, “I have hope because 5 years ago, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. It changed my life and changed me and now I have hope because of Him.” That’s pretty simple and not too painful!
To Everyone Who Asks
Then Paul adds – give an answer to everyone who asks you. Here, the key word is ‘asks.’ In other words, you don’t have to go out on the street, grab a stranger, push them up against a wall, and force them to hear your testimony! You just need to be ready to give it when someone asks. Perhaps someone in your office says, “I don’t know how you do it. How do stay so happy with everything you’re going through?” That is a perfect opportunity to share some portion of your story. Share your hope with them because they probably need it.
Sometimes people hint around and give you little opportunities to share. Other times, they may be facing a mountain and feel they can’t go on. Your story of a mountain you faced, with Jesus, will give them hope.
With Gentleness and Respect
This is a condition Paul places on our sharing with others. We need to be gentle. There are times when you would just like to blast someone because, in spite of all the times you’ve shared with them, they are back in the same hole. But, here, Paul says not to do it that way. He says to be gentle. He also says to show respect.
Your Uncle has just gotten through another drinking binge. He’s feeling down and out and he asks you how you keep going. You are a recovering alcoholic, and you want to say, “I keep going because I don’t do stupid stuff like getting drunk and staying that way for 2 weeks and then asking for help for the 20th time.” But, you don’t. Instead, you share again how Jesus changed your life and helped you overcome alcoholism. You do not disrespect and hurt them. You may be angry, but you remember the admonition to share your hope with gentleness and respect.
Keeping a Clear Conscience
You show gentleness and respect for two reasons. First, you are not this person’s judge and so you have no right to pronounce a sentence over them or condemn them. Conviction is not your job. Leave it to the expert – the Holy Spirit. Just share the truth of Jesus’ life in you. Hurting them will not draw them to Jesus love.
Second, you want to maintain a clear conscience knowing that you have been obedient to the admonition to be ready, to share why you have hope, and to do be respectful and gentle in the process. Regardless of how the other person responds or does not respond, to your testimony of hope, you have a clear conscience because you did it the way Jesus would have.
Standing When Slandered
If someone else hears you give your testimony and begins to mock you, you know that you have done the right thing. You can brush off their words because you are standing on The Word of God.
You may even get a chance to share your hope with the person who is slandering you and telling others that you were pushy about your religion when you know you weren’t. Perhaps you will get a chance to serve the person who is betraying you. By speaking with gentleness and respect, we show the love Christ asked us to show.
Remember Jesus’ new commandment?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
Jesus did. Jesus said we were to follow the first two commandments and this new one. All of it is about sacrificial love. Jesus gave this new commandment to the disciples. He did it just after Judas had taken his bread and departed to go and betray Jesus. Jesus had washed Judas’ feet and broken bread with him. After the betrayer left, Jesus tells the eleven to love one another so that everyone would know that they were His disciples.
Did that include loving Judas? I believe it did. Jesus had washed his feet that very night. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do, yet He served Judas anyway. This is love – to wash the feet of your betrayer hours before you will be tortured and killed.
Others Are Watching You
When we do the right thing and are slandered for it, the conscience of the slanderer may also be activated. They may feel bad but never tell you. At the same time, they continue to watch you as do your co-workers, friends, and people you don’t even know.
We all watch each other. We see the eye rolls when the boss is speaking. The grimace when the child makes the Mom really mad. We watch and are watched. It’s nothing to focus on, just a fact of life. But, as a Christian, people are watching to see how you react. Do you blow up an start screaming at the person who is slandering you? Do fall apart, run out of the building and quit your job? Or, do you remain quiet, do your work and love those around you? You can tell someone that you did not push your religion, you just answered a question. Or just say, “It wasn’t like they think it was.” That’s simple and does not accuse.
Working Through Our Own Life
Sometimes we do get upset over an injustice or being hurt by someone. Then, we pray, get ahold of ourselves and move on with life. Others see that you were hurt, you got angry, then you got over it and didn’t let it infect your life. They see the victory. We don’t have to be perfect. People need to see us in the trenches just like they are except they need to see us maintaining hope. We can communicate hope to people just by showing up the next day with a smile on our face.
As you think about how you would answer someone who asked you about the hope you have, take the time to look up some scriptures and make them familiar enough that you could at least paraphrase them if someone asked. What you say? Of course, it partially depends on exactly what they ask but, no matter what they ask, they are looking for hope. We all are. Sometimes we need it more than others. We need to be ready to share our hope – give them a portion to sustain them until they find Jesus as their own personal source of hope. Maintain a clear conscience in the process.
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**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
1 – 24 Day Challenge – Renewing Your Mind and Conscience
2 – Living By the Golden Rule
3 – Being Falsely Accused
4 – A Personal Testimony of Salvation
5 – Knowing Right From Wrong
6 – What is the Power of the Holy Spirit?
7 – Submitting to Authority
8 – What is a Weak Conscience?
9 – Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel
10 – Speaking The Truth at All Times
11 – Purity of Heart and Mind
12 – 12 Steps to Overcoming Guilt and Shame
13 – Living With Integrity
14 – The Goal of Unselfish Love
15 – The Shield of Faith
16 – Leading By Example
17 – Being A Good Enough Christian
18 – Standing Firm in Your Faith
19 – How to Encourage Yourself|
20 – Do Well by Doing Good