A Christian wants to be a good ambassador for Christ.
A good witness. A light. Share the good news! But how to best do so?
Cry aloud and spare not (Isaiah 58:1).
But be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (Matthew 10:16).
And don’t cast your pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6).
If you’re pontificating on the corner of the sty,
you need the Apostle Peter’s wise instruction in 1 Peter 3:15,
with seven key parts to consider:
- “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts”
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things” (Matthew 12:34). Conversion is the best solution for speaking good words. Peter says to “sanctify,” meaning set apart. Set apart time for God through prayer, study, fasting and meditation.
- “Always be ready”
Such requests come when least expected! The Unexpected is trying to arm you with understanding and preparation. Ready to what?
- “Give a defense”
Not offense! The Greek apologia means “answer for, clearing of self, defense.” But you are probably not hauled before an inquisition and probably don’t need to come out swinging. They are family—to eventually become a brother or sister in Christ—they just might not know it yet!
- “To everyone who asks you”
Don’t go around trying to convert everyone like we did when we first learned some new truth and probably wanted to brag about it as being in the know. We want our first love tempered by wisdom, which is one-third timing.
Let the questioner direct the conversation. Focus on them, not yourself. Christ first asked “What do you seek?” (John 1:38). He started with where they were and then pointed them to Himself … “Come and see” (v. 39).
At the Transfiguration (Matthew 17), Peter was so excited to be there that he gushed comments. The voice gently corrected “This is my Son—hush up and listen to Him!”
- “A reason”
When a preacher saw that only one person showed up for his sermon because of bad weather, he reasoned that the one man deserved to hear his whole message. But later the farmer told him: “If only one cow shows, I don’t give him the whole load!”
This is a good time for a Weymouth rendering: Don’t give Wey Too Much Mouth!
“The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil”—Proverbs 15:28.
“Even if everything you say is in plain language, there is a point where too much plain language does more harm than good”—The Language of Trust by Michael Maslansky, p. 75.
“You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and preexisting beliefs. It’s not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener’s shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart… “Speech is a surrender, not a conquest”—Words That Work—It’s Not What you Say, It’s What People Hear by Dr. Frank Lunz.
Lunz says “Negative messages no longer work the way they did in the past.” With negative first, people don’t usually stay tuned and don’t hear the positive. A prerequisite for messages of trust that work today is to be forward-looking. The Greek word for “answer” is pros and means “a preposition of direction; forward to.” Our answers should be founded on the coming Kingdom of God!
- “Meekness and fear”
“Do it in a gentle and respectful way” (Living Bible). The prophet Nathan confronted David about his heinous sin by first connecting with David about something he would agree with: It wasn’t right for a man who could have anything he wanted to take a poor man’s only sheep.
Guided by Peter’s seven principles, you are ready to give an answer.
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