“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” (1 Peter 3:15, 16 KJV)
Does this not seem backwards? Have we not been taught since we were little to live in such an honorable way so as to not need to give an accounting? Have we not been taught that if we do things in such a way as to maintain a good conscience that our purpose is plain? Our goal has been to avoid having to give an account. Our goal has been to testify without having to stoop to using mere words. Being caught doing the right thing would be self-explanatory. It would seem that being caught doing the wrong thing would require the explanation. Why would we have to be ready to give an answer for our hope and our good conscience? And not just to one man here or there, but to every man!
It would appear that those who are watching cannot see the hope and the reasoning that we can in Christ. Sure, they have seen it “all” before. Sure, they see professional actors that can do even better than we can. Sure, they “know” all our real motives. Yet for all they see, have seen, and know; do they really? Which brings us to an age old dilemma. Do we try yet harder to be sanctified and scrub ourselves yet one stain cleaner than we were yesterday? Probably not a bad idea. But in whose forgiveness and cleansing capabilities are we to do this? Ours or His? If it is ours, we will be about a good idea all day long, but never make it. If it is His, then we must learn a more complete surrender rather than better management.
Now we see a little clearer why the answer must be at the ready for our hope, our conscience, and so much more! There is no answer that can be completely honest least it confess our shortcoming and His sufficiency. Those evildoers turn out to be right there among us working quite close to us because we were once one of them. What changed? We better have that answer at the ready!
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)