“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:13-17).
When we think of defense, its not unusual to think of an aggressor. In sports the defense works against the offense to keep them from scoring. In war we defend a position from being overrun. In law the defense works to protect their client against the claims of the accuser. In each case the defense is trying to stop something from happening.
In some ways the defense that Peter is speaking of in the section of Scripture above carries the same definition. In this case we are defending the hope within us instilled by the Holy Spirit. Peter is saying that there will be those who will try to steal that hope from you and that we should be prepared to give a faithful defense against that.
But there is much more to this definition as it is presented here. Peter goes on to say that the defense we give should be presented with gentleness, respect, and a good conscience. Something that, at times, takes an incredible amount of strength in the face of adversity.
So why are these attributes so important? It is because, in doing so, we are taking on the nature of God who, though we fight against Him every day, chooses to love us and guide us rather than lay His thumb of revenge upon us.
By taking on the nature of God we present the very best defense, because those who revile us will have no reason to put us to shame. By leaving it to God, any suffering we might endure is a righteous kind of suffering, bearing no fault of aggression.
Romans 12:19 gives wise advice saying, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” In the end, any defense we give for the hope that is ours should be left to the wisdom and power of God. By His Word we can mount a defense through its wisdom and direction. By God’s grace, we can make our defense in the calmness and confidence that He offers.
Many will come to try and tarnish the hope that we have gained in Christ, but God has given us everything we need to defend ourselves from the devil’s attempts. Our part comes in the willingness we have to let God guide us. Through prayer and meditation as our way of communication to God and His Word as His way to speak to us, we have all we need to find victory over the adversary.
To properly be prepared, we are called to strengthen our relationship with God. It is His desire for us to know that He will never leave us or forsake us in those times when the aggressor comes to steal our hope. Isaiah 41:10-12 assures us of this saying, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all” (Isaiah 41:10-12).
We can stand confident in the fact that God will always provide a way of strong defense against all of those who wish to rob us of our hope. Trust in Him to be bold in your defense and be willing to let Him guide you. Be zealous for what is good and have no fear, your Lord is with you. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for being there when we need you. Help us to defend ourselves against the devil’s ways and lead us to righteousness for Your name’s sake. Amen.