1 Peter 3:15-16
When I was in high school I was a waitress at a family restaurant. That type of restaurant would attract “regulars” and we were usually very happy to accommodate our regular customers because they were usually pleasant and we appreciated their patronage. There was one regular customer; however, that we all dreaded to have seated in our sections. He was a man that went to my church and openly proclaimed his faith; however, he treated all the waitresses in the restaurant like second class citizens. For some reason, he felt it was acceptable to treat each waitress as if she were unintelligent and would degrade the waitresses loudly in front of other customers. After shaming the waitresses, he would walk out of the restaurant without leaving a tip, yet tell everyone that they were going to Hell and how much they needed God. I remember what the waitresses would say after he left, and they had an impression that if that is what it means to follow God, they would have nothing to do with it. 1 Peter 3:15-16 talks of the importance of sharing our faith; however, please read how we are to share it.
Our witness is important not only in what we say, but also in how we say it and how we live it. These verses make it very clear that being harsh in our approach is not the way God wants us to do it. Even if what we say is true, if it is said in a way that is disrespectful to the person we are talking to we have not done it right. As I mentioned in a previous post, it is important to listen to the other person's story; we could learn a lot about them and understand the underlying hurt that will not heal without Christ. When we can remember that we are delivering a message of hope to someone who is hurting and has no hope, we can be gentle in our approach with them and show them respect. Just because their viewpoint is different than ours and they have not learned the truth and life that God can give does not mean they are worth less in God's eyes. Please remember that no matter how much their lifestyle may be contrary to what God would like for them, God loves them just as much as He loves you and desperately desires to have them come to know His love.
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." We are to be prepared to share our story just as we are to be prepared to listen to other people's stories, but let's be gentle in what we say. "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God," 1 Peter 3:18. This is not an exclusive club that only a few of us get to participate in; this is for all! Think of how you would like to be invited to the best banquet ever; would you like to hear how horrible you are and how you will be punished or would you like to hear that the host cares so much about you that nothing would make Him happier than to see you at the feast. I know for my part I would rather hear about how much God wants me there! Since we know how the Bible lays out what is going to happen, we should be motivated all the more to let people know in a loving gentle way how much God loves them.
Are your actions and speech sharing the message of Christ in a gentle manner?