1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear
This is probably my favorite verse in the Bible. This verse sums up what I believe my calling from God in ministry is to be. There is a tremendous amount of truth packed in this verse, so I’d like to break it down, so my readers can understand the power it contains.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…
The word “sanctify” comes from the Greek word hagaizo, and it means to set aside, make holy, consecrate, or purify. Other translations render it as revere (NIV) or honor as holy (ESV). The phrase tells us that we must begin by keeping God in His proper place as the center and focus of our hearts and lives. This is impossible unless we first have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. God cannot be sanctified in a person’s heart unless he or she has first been reconciled with God by receiving forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. Salvation through trusting Christ is the first step in the life-long process of growing in our relationship with Him. Submitting our minds and wills to God’s authority is something we must learn to consistently strive toward, and making God our highest priority is part of that process.
…and always be ready…
The word always means, “all the time; continuously; uninterruptedly.” The word ready means, “completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use” (Dictionary.com). So, for us to “always be ready” means that we are be in an uninterrupted state of complete preparedness; to be in a continuously fit condition; and be ready for immediate action all the time. Such a state implies deliberate and extensive preparation. The Boy Scout motto, be prepared, is a motto that Christians should adopt as well. As a soldier prepares for battle, or an athlete trains for competition, so we must prepare ourselves for the work God commands us to do.
…to give a defense…
The Greek word apologia means “speech in defense of a reasoned statement or argument” (BibleStudyTools.com). It is the root of the English word apologetics. It is a term that describes what a lawyer might do to defend the innocence of their client. We are to do more than just tell people about the truth; we are to defend the truth. We are to give rational reasons and arguments for why we believe and act as we do.
…to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…
As Christians, what is the hope that is within us? It is the hope of Jesus Christ. It the hope we have because God has demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). It is the hope that through the blood of Jesus Christ, we are fully reconciled to God. It is the hope that through the Resurrection, we have a future life in eternal fellowship with our Creator and King. It is this hope we must always be prepared to defend to everyone we come into contact with.
…with meekness and fear
This phrase is often overlooked, but I believe it is probably the most important, if we want those with whom we interact to actually hear what we’re saying. It’s also the part I struggle with the most. Other Bible versions translate this phrase as “with gentleness and respect.” It means we must not argue arrogantly, or try to cram the truth down people’s throats. Our attitudes, both before other men and before God, must be one of humility, honesty, and love. The most eloquent, rational defense of the Christian faith will mean little to most people, if they can’t see in our lives the way God is changing us and transforming us to His Image. The goal is not to win an argument, but to be used by God to radically change the hearts, souls, and minds of those around us.
This is what I believe God has called me to do: to set God apart in my heart; to continuously be prepared to rationally defend the Gospel to everyone I have contact with; and to do so with the right attitude. Although I still have much work to do, this is what I am working toward, and what I am called to help others work toward attaining.