1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
“…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…”
This verse has been on my mind, at least in the peripheral, for a few days now. It has caused a question to roll over and over in my mind;
Do I live my life in such a way that would cause someone to ask me of the hope within myself?
The admonition is clear, “be ready”, not for something that might take place, or could possibly happen- “…Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh…”. There is no doubt here, the message is, if you sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, people are going to ask, “how is it you live this way?”
So, the question quickly becomes- How does one live in such a way that others see something out of the ordinary within them?
“…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…”
Sanctify: to acknowledge as hallowed, consecrated to God
· purify, cleanse externally
· to purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin
· to purify internally by renewing of the soul.
This directive to sanctify God in our hearts removes the focus from ourselves and places it squarely on the Lord. All of our motives and actions must originate with and through Him. God, Himself and His will must be hallowed in our lives. Our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls must be consecrated to His service. This is initially effected within us by God Himself, when He frees us from the guilt of sin through the cleansing blood of the Lamb of God, His Son Jesus. Upon confession of our sinfulness, repentance we are purified, our hearts are swept clean and our souls are renewed as we are now new creatures in Christ. As we submit to the will of God, allowing Him that place of King and Lord of our lives we are made people dedicated, devoted, and reserved unto the Lord. It is through this continual obedience to the Word of God that the process of further sanctification is perpetuated in our hearts and minds and the light and life of Christ begins to shine forth from us. That is the reason for the hope within us.
“…and be ready always to give an answer…”
There is a sense here where this counsel can serve as an admonition to – be prepared – for it may be adversity that brings forth the question being asked of you. So now it becomes something more than what was first supposed. The question is no longer limited to, “Do I live in such a way that others see something out of the ordinary in me- something Christ-like in me?”, now the question evolves into “Can I show forth Christ consistently whilst suffering abuse, adversity, persecution, loss, etc.?” And further, can I willingly and lovingly give the answer to the one inflicting the suffering?
This again removes self from the equation, it eliminates posturing, or self approval. When honest with ourselves we quickly realize that we can do nothing by our own strength. Jesus tells us in John 15 that without Him we could do nothing. This encourages an ever-growing dependence upon the Lord which is desired and needful- for when we allow Christ to reign in our lives the negative “apart from me you can do nothing”, becomes the positive “through Christ I can do all things!”
As is the way with scripture we are given sound instruction on precisely how to begin to move into this type of surrendered living, look at 1 Peter 3:8.
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Be of one mind– Do not waver in your faith! Confirm your faith and live it. This has to be one on the most important aspects of our witness. How easy it is to lose all confidence in someone due to their vacillating between godly living and ungodly living. Once we make a confession of conversion, we must continually allow our way to be guided by scripture, reinforced with prayer, and hedged in by sound accountability from the body of Christ. (I am aware that “be ye all of one mind” is intentioned to the group, one to another, but I feel assured that we can receive it on an individual and introspective level as well.)
Having compassion one of another– Sympathizing in the joy and sorrow of others. How foreign this concept is today, in this age of all for one self centeredness. Just walk around your local department store and observe how most people will act as if you are not even there, especially if there is some sort of sale going on.
Love as brethren- Simple to say and hear, but how difficult to practice. One does not have to look very far to see how rampant divisions and strife abound in the church- within congregations and between denominations. How can we show forth and convince the lost and dying of our supposed unconditional love for them if we cannot love the brethren?
Be pitiful- be tender-hearted. How it grieves me that I almost unconsciously recoil from that word, tender-hearted. How jaded we are today towards any sense of tenderness, especially in men, having been indoctrinated with the opinion that to be tender-hearted is tantamount to being weak.
Be courteous- To be humble-minded, genuinely polite fostered by humility and a love unfeigned. This concept has to be the most foreign in our society today. Be courteous- this flies against all that we espouse in our enlightened age of all you need exists in self. When selfishness and self-centeredness are combined with the anonymity afforded by the internet, we see lack of courtesy and a hardness/hatefulness towards fellow human beings as commonplace and generally accepted.
It was not too long ago that these ideals would have been just as comfortable in a secular context as socially accepted notions of good behavior, as they are in the scriptural context, but that parallel ends with the next few verses.
How can we live a life that shows a hope within us so opposite the world to cause some to question from whence it comes?
As 1 Peter 3:9-11 shows us, we cannot, except Christ be formed in us:
· We cannot render evil for evil
· We cannot revile (despise) them that revile us
· We must refrain our tongue from speaking evil
· We must speak no guile (duplicity, deceit, dishonesty)
· We must eschew (avoid, abstain from, shun) evil
· We must do good (what’s that? By my faith I will show you good works?)
· We must seek peace (we must actively seek after that which is not offered)
· We must ensue it (we must follow after peace even if it is not desired)
I don’t know about you, but this is becoming painful. Is it enough to constantly read and study scripture, to pray, to attend church, to actively seek Christ, if all these attributes are not manifesting themselves in our daily lives?
Perhaps I am not so much seeking Christ, but maybe I am seeking what Christ can do for me…
Oh God, please let my desire be you- the Giver of the gifts, and not the gifts themselves. Please do not allow me to become so ensconced in all the “performing” that I can mask my failure at “becoming”. Becoming more Christ-like, becoming more aligned with your will and your Word. Lord open the eyes of my understanding, give me ears to hear and a heart to receive your Word. Please give me a will to perform only your will with joy and let me always surrender to you in meekness and reverence of who you are.