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
Have you ever thought society has become overly cynical? What I mean by that is people are suspicious whenever they see someone doing good; they consider there must be an ulterior motive behind the goodness–surely they must be doing it for a self-serving purpose. Sometimes, this thinking may lead to slander, libel, or even aggression.
As it turns out, this kind of jaded thinking is a problem that has been around for a while. In today’s verse, Peter answers, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?” (v.13) It’s a rhetorical question–the answer to the who is someone–there’ll always be someone. He continues in verse 14, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’” As followers of Christ, we are to continue to show love and kindness–repaying their evil with good because this is what Christ, our Lord, does. He repays our sins with forgiveness.
Of course, anytime we respond with goodness in the face of adversity, it raises another question for the skeptics: “Why?” “I’ve been deplorable to you. Why do you continue to act in your compassion?” When the question is asked, we must be prepared to answer; it’s not us but the work of Christ through us; it is our “good behavior in Christ.”
Peter further continues to instruct us on how we are to respond with “gentleness and respect.” Our words need to be consistent with our actions. If we respond harshly or disrespectfully, it reinforces their initial belief that we are doing goodness for another purpose. But when what we say and do are aligned, we serve as a powerful witness to the transformative power of Christ. He who has changed us wants to do the exact change in them.
Father God, by the Holy Spirit, help us be prepared to show your compassion and love despite what others may think or how they might respond. Help us be prepared when asked to share our stories of transformation with gentleness and respect. May through our words and deeds, may they see only you. Let all we do be only for your glory. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.