Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15b)
I have a lot of “favourite” Bible verses. As far as a life motto for the Christian life, and also for evangelism (sharing the faith) and apologetics (defending the faith), this is probably chief among them. This verse speaks to the Gospel (“the reason for the hope that is in you”) but also to how Christians ought to live their lives in light of this glorious salvation, if indeed we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (1 Pet 2:3). We are called to approach those outside of the Church (non-Christians) and those within the Church (our brothers and sisters) in a spirit of “gentleness and respect.” Not heavy handedly nor confrontationally, but “in gentleness and respect.”
I remember I was once standing at the four corners of my town, having just exited the bank machine on a dark and rainy evening. Suddenly, out of the shadows a hand fell on my shoulder and said, “Have you been saved!” I replied, “Yes!” but I was really thinking I needed saving from his creepy form of evangelism! When we share our faith winsomely and in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15b the Lord sees fit to bless our testimony.
This verse not only applies to sharing our faith but even sharing what we believe to be true or think to be the best course of action amongst Christians. Certainly we need to stand up for what we believe to be the true and right, but even with brothers and sisters (or those who claim this) we need to have this right spirit. Too often Christians can be combative, defensive or divisive toward one another. While we need to care for truth, we need to engage in all matters in this right spirit. Why? The fruit of faith will always testify as to whether our faith is genuine (or healthy). Beyond Galatians 5 there are many tests of faith or lists of assurance—fruits of the Spirit. James 3:17 is one such place and there we read of the Christian being “peaceable…open to reason” (you might also translate that “open to reasoning”). Such an openness to display “gentleness and respect” in all of our engagements is the hallmark of a maturing Christian, whether dealing with those within or without of the Church.
Is your life displaying this right spirit that comes from having the hope of Christ in your life as a result of trusting in the Gospel?
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,
 Literally: give a defence.
 Or the old KJV said, with meekness and fear.
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.