So, it appears I’ll be completing a trilogy of thoughts this morning as I wrap up 1 Peter 3.
A couple of days ago I was challenged by entrusting myself to Him who judges justly (1Pet. 2:23b). About not having to defend myself when I feel like I’m being put on the defensive. About not arguing when I think I have a good argument to make. About being willing to trust God to bring to light what needs to be brought to light — or not. About entrusting myself to “the Shepherd and Overseer” of my soul (1Pet. 2:25b).
Yesterday, it was the reminder that taking such a submissive posture comes with a level of risk. Submitting to someone can work out well when they are “for you”, but if they’re not, well, then it has the potential to go off the rails in some manner. At least your rails. But if placing ourselves under authority is done from the heart (1Pet. 3:4) as unto the Lord (Eph. 5:21), then we gotta believe that in God’s sight it’s “very precious” (1Pet. 3:4b). And that’s really what matters. So, says Peter, do it and do not fear anything that is frightening (1Pet. 3:6b).
In today’s reading, while I’ve been exhorted over the past couple of days to quiet my tongue and submit my spirit, I’m also being exhorted to be prepared to give an answer.
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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 . . .
(1Peter 3:14-15 ESV)
Recently I read in Ecclesiastes that “for everything there is a season; a time for every matter under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). Among “everything”, says Solomon, there is a “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7b). Peter would seem to concur. While these believers in exile were to not sin with their mouth, following the example of Jesus, and while they were to submit as they should, trusting the way of Jesus, they were also to be ready to “make a defense” for the hope that compelled them to act in such a manner — their hope in Jesus. So, says Peter, be ready to speak when it’s time to speak.
Yet, he says, do it with all gentleness and respect.
Gentleness and reverence, is how the NASB renders it. Meekness and fear, according to the NKJV.
The word translated respect most often has the idea of fear, dread, or terror. So, it could mean that in our giving an answer we are to be gentle towards men out of a reverent fear of God. But, given the full range of how the word is translated in the NT, it also seems within the realm of likely possibility that it is being used to convey a reverence, or respect, towards those before whom one is making their defense.
Bottom line for this guy this morning? When being prepared to make a defense, be prepared to not be defensive. When being prepared to make the argument, be prepared not to argue. Instead, when asked, be prepared to give an answer with gentleness and respect toward those you are addressing out of obedience to the One you are serving.
When asked, make the case, but be prepared to do it with meekness. Relay what’s true, but do it with respect and reverence.
Trust the One who justifies. Submit to others out of reverence for Christ. Be prepared to speak the truth, but with all gentleness and respect. A good set of takeaways from the last three mornings. More than I can muster on my own, I fear. But I’m not on my own. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2:20b).
Gentleness and respect.
By His grace. For His glory.