Daily Devotion – May 18, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

1 Peter 3:13-17

3:13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?
3:14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated,
3:15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you;
3:16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.
3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.

Hear a clear call to Christian witness in verse 15-16:

Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.

Unpacking that call, we see Peter telling the believers two things:

1. people will demand to know why we are living in such hope, and

2. we must be ready to make our defense to them with gentleness and reverence

Look around yourself, your life. Are you living in such hope that anyone would demand the reason for it? How do people around you see your disposition, your tendency to be filled with hope? The early believers, apparently, exuded hope. How might we, like them, be filled to overflowing with such hope? So much hope that people demand to know why? If someone somewhere were struck by my hopefulness one day and demand to know why I had it, how would I answer? I think I should practice a bit first.

“I live in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection.” Good. True. But understandable to the person demanding a reason for my hopefulness? Maybe not.

“I live hopefully because I am a beloved child of God.” Good. True. But maybe sounds like nursery school stuff. Or maybe goody-two-shoes stuff.

What’s the most gentle and reverent way to defend hope? Listening to another. So maybe I should begin like this: “When you are hopeful, why are you hopeful?” They will probably say, “I am hopeful because I know I can trust someone to come through for me. That lets me hope.” Then I could speak about trusting the Lord in real concrete ways. Or they might say, “I don’t feel hopeful too often, but when I do it’s because someone credible told me something good would happen.” Then I could speak about why God is credible to me and God’s good news is for real.

The first step to sharing the good news is to actually live in hope. And BE SEEN TO live in hope, so people get curious and ask why. The second step is to answer them first by listening to them and next by telling them why you trust God and how that trust brings you hope.

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving us. When you bring someone to us who wants to know about hope, help us to speak out about your hope in a gentle, reverent way. Amen.