There’s much to consider in this verse. We could contemplate what it means to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope we possess. Or, we could envision how we might need to live in such a way as to create the kind of intrigue that invites inquiry about our hope. Or, we might even become sobered by the realization that perhaps our lives portray a rather anemic hope. Of course, hopelessness is a byproduct of not practicing the discipline commanded in the prior verse, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” (1 Peter 3:14). So, we could also contemplate how we might better create a reverent space for God in our lives.
Yet, what strikes me today about this passage is the way in which our answers are to be delivered: with gentleness and respect. Taken together, the underlying Greek words convey an attitude of vigilant care. The word translated as “gentleness” could also be rendered as humility, while the word “respect” comes from the Greek word phobos, from which we get the word “phobia.” Clearly, answering another’s inquiry about our eternal hope is a serious matter — not to be taken lightly. Another’s journey to Christ might just hinge on our response. Responses that are critical of the inquirer or not taken seriously deny the power of the hope we possess. Since observation often precedes inquiry, shouldn’t our words be wrapped in gentleness and respect on all occasions?
Your thoughts? If someone were to observe you, would they find you gentle and respectful or either too quick to judge or brush off?