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Winning Answers

1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (NIVUK)

God's truth has its own inbuilt power.  We can never force people to believe in Jesus - trust grows as they discover that Christ is trustworthy.  Our task is to explain who Jesus is and what He has done, so that others will be persuaded to take action (2 Corinthians 5:11) by repenting and turning to follow Him.  One of the reasons the Holy Spirit has been given to us is so that we can announce Christ with confidence (Acts 1:8).  

We are called to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16), our lives of love encouraging people to enquire about Jesus.  It is natural that they should ask questions about our faith and the reason we behave differently.  But if it is not obvious that we respect the questioner, how will they know that God loves them: and if we do not win their trust, why should we expect them to trust the Lord?  So, we need to honour them by sharing our faith gently, respecting that each of them is also made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).
Good behaviour is a clear witness of Christian character.  It should be the backdrop against which people ask questions, seeking the reason for our gladness and courageous endurance.  It is also the best defence against accusations of double motives, manipulation and other features which mark membership of a cult.  Of course, some will still find any excuse to ridicule believers, but their mocking should eventually give way to a sense of shame for having slandered the innocent.
Hostility can bring out the worst in us. A violent or cynical question might make us want to respond with aggression: but Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Jesus let the wicked condemn themselves: His silence proved their guilt and His innocence (Isaiah 53:7) (1 Peter 2:23). So, when the spotlight is on us, because we belong to Christ, we have no need to think of clever arguments or powerful words to win the argument. Simply say what is true about Jesus and let the Holy Spirit convince them of their need to repent and receive the Saviour (Luke 12:11-12).

God of truth and love. Thank You that I know the daily presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Please forgive me when I disown Him by failing to live for Him or speak about Him. Please help me to present Your truth graciously and to live a holy life, so that others may be convicted of their sin, and long to find their Saviour. Even when they refuse to respect me, help me to go on loving them, as You do. Help me to trust that You will use my gentle words and Christ-like lifestyle to show them it is possible to repent and be saved. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams