15 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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
In trying to answer people’s questions about Christianity, tone matters. Some Christians just come across angry, and that’s not helpful. To answer ‘’with gentleness and respect’’ surely means that we listen as well as speak. Don’t over-talk, and try to deal with the questions being asked, and not the ones you wish they were asking.
In the 1980’s, I served as an assistant missioner at a Manchester University student mission. The well-known evangelist J. John was the lead missioner. At one lunch time event, two young girls were plain difficult and cantankerous – in fact, pretty obnoxious in my opinion. I will never forget how lovely and kind the evangelist was. He didn’t get riled; he was so patient. That is probably my best memory from the period of the mission. What an example he was.
‘We do not need to speak forcefully. We must never put others down. We must never argue or give offence. Because if a person is offended by our manner of speaking, he will not listen to the words we speak.
Surely, as Peter wrote…he remembered his own experience. Three times Peter had denied His Lord. He had been afraid then. He certainly had not been ready to witness to Christ. He answered those who questioned him neither with gentleness nor with respect-nor with truth! (See Mark 14:66-72). Therefore, let us not be discouraged when we fall; if Peter could overcome his early sins and weaknesses, so can we.’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied New Testament Commentary’,p.915.
Why is keeping a ‘’clear conscience’’ so important for your witness? Well, could it be that if you feel guilty, condemned and unworthy, you are more likely to remain silent. But in the context, it is very much about ensuring that you live right, even though people may be falsely accusing you of wrong.
PRAYER: Help me Lord to see everyone I meet through your eyes, and remember they are in your image. Please give me many opportunities to point people to Jesus.