1 Peter 3:15 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 behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Peter tells us that we should always be ready to share our faith in Christ with anyone who will listen; however, we should always do so in a gentle and loving manner. The Apostle Paul tells us to always speak the truth, but to do so in love. (see Ephesians 4:15) In his letter to the Corinthians he wrote – “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1) It’s not just ‘what’ we say, but ‘how’ we say it.
One of the major lessons to be learned from the book of 1 Peter is how to suffer in such a way that it can bring God glory. Today we see that Peter tells us that our conduct should be so pure that it will eventually cause those attacking us to be ashamed of the way they have mistreated us.
As I am writing this devotional, a verse from the book of Proverbs comes to my mind. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) Though there may sometimes be the temptation for us to try to defend ourselves and retaliate, the Bible tells us that a soft and gentle answer is always better.
Consider once again what Peter tells us about how our Lord conducted Himself before His accusers.
1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. NIV
Christ was silent before His accusers for at least three reasons:
1) He understood that they were acting out of spiritual ignorance
Even as men stood at the foot of His cross and mocked Him, our Lord prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
2) He understood that one day, God would judge all men justly
Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
3) He understood that the ability to show kindness to an enemy is actually a demonstration of great strength
Paul writes – “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) As I write this, I think of Pilate as he questioned our Lord. Here was the mighty Roman solider, trying to prove his power by yelling in the face of Jesus; and yet, Christ demonstrated the greater strength by remaining silent.