Devotional by Brian Chilton
1 Peter 3:15 is a classic prooftext for the defender of the faith, otherwise known as the Christian apologist. Peter writes, “But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). While this verse is of invaluable importance to the modern Christian, we must also remember the next verse where Peter states, “Yet do this with gentleness and reverence, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Pet. 3:16).
Many times, a person may win an argument but lose the person. When presenting a case for the faith, we should never become arrogant, seeking to appear intelligent, or to demonstrate our superiority. Such attempts will eventually lose the person with whom you are speaking. Rather, we should seek to build friendships and bonds with others, especially those who differ from our point of view. This coincides with Paul’s teaching to the 1 Corinthians where he says, “If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 15:2).
In your dealings this week, ask yourself if you are engaging people with a heart of love. If not, you might better go back to the drawing board and remember that it was love that created you, love that saved you, and love that grants you eternal life. Going back to Paul, he noted that there exist three things “faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). Don’t lose the person in your attempts to win an argument.