Last week, we briefly considered two words that help reveal to us the sort of character we should seek after if we are to be more effective in sharing the hope of Christ. Those two words were “meekness and fear” (1st Peter 3:15). Today, we will look once again at that same verse, only this time, considering something that motivates us to pursue such character development. I use the word development, because both meekness and fear (respect) are the result of personal growth, which is both intentional and purposeful.
It is so important to reflect on the context for which we find our verse for today’s lesson. For these early Christians, their walk with Christ was not a journey down easy street. Peter writes, “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?” (v13) The ETRV reads in part, “If you are always trying…” Another translation uses the word “eager” which comes from a Greek word that means to be enthusiastic for. Titus 2:14 says that Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Such eagerness to do Christ’s work can be easily be derailed by our world. Sometimes, standing for what you believe and acting as Christ would desire places you in the minority, and so it was with these early Christians. No matter what, they were blessed and thus, there was no need to “afraid of their threats, nor be troubled” (v14). The potential of harm is present and every bit real. How do you deal with it and at the same time, be eager to share Christ with those perpetrating the harm?
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…
1st Peter 3:15
Where is Christ? This is the question that flooded my mind as I meditated on this verse. This word sanctify is at the center of answering that question. It means to make holy, i.e., purify or consecrate; to venerate. The ETRV translates it “But keep the Lord Christ holy…” Some try to describe it as though you were “setting something apart from all other things.” That helps me grasp the idea some, but for what reason is the Christian setting the Lord apart? It is to acknowledge Him as Lord of their lives! One commentator writes, “Christians are to regard Christ as being what he is, holy. They are to give him a place in their hearts as Lord, holding him in reverence.” Still another writes, “In your hearts, or in the affections of the soul, regard the Lord God as holy, and act toward him with that confidence which a proper respect for one so great and so holy demands. Amid dangers, be not intimidated; dread not what man can do, but evince [i.e., be evidenced of; indicate] proper reliance on a holy God and flee to him with the confidence which is due to one so glorious.” This is done in the heart of the believer; that is, where their thoughts and feelings reside. Where decisions are made, words are chosen, and actions find their birth. Christ reigns within! Thus, although faced by their oppressors, they would “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks” for the “reason for the hope that “was in them. What was in them was their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This caused me to ask another question, not to place doubt, but encourage transformation. When was the last time I thought about Christ as Lord (Master of my life)? What a sobering question. Still, it helps me to understand this simple fact about evangelism. It is not the merely the knowledge of Christ that needs to be heard, but also the conviction of someone who deep within their hearts, exalts Christ as Lord. Lord, help us daily live a life that places You on the throne of our hearts, to the glory of Your name and the further of Your gospel.