Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired help. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.
As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer.
“Are you a good farmhand?” the farmer asked him. “Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man.
Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work.
Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters.
He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Everything needs to be tied down before they blow away!”
The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”
Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down.
Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.
MORAL: When you’re prepared spiritually, mentally, and physically, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life?
In our text today, Peter continues to encourage and instruct Christians. As he knew from his own experience everybody is not going to welcome you with open arms just because you are a Christian. As a matter of fact many may do their best to undermine if not destroy you and your reputation.
In light of these storms that may come your way, Peter gives us some good advice. Let me read it to you. “13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” (And here is his advice) “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,16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Being prepared is crucial for so many aspects of life. Creatures great and small grow, collect and store food in preparation for winter. Our Government as well as all governments all around the world spent billions of dollars preparing for potentials terrorist attacks, wars, natural disasters, and so much more. Soldiers, police officers, rescue teams, doctors prepared and practice for worst case scenarios. There are so many things that we should and need to prepare for that one could not list them all.
But here in our text Peter doesn’t want to see us get caught unprepared regarding spiritual matters so he tell us to always be ready and prepared to give an answer or defense to anyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope that we have as a Christian.
The question I have for you today is, ‘Are you prepared to do this?’
If someone were to get right up in your face and ask today and say, ‘Just tell me why you believe in all this Christianity stuff’, what would you say?
Peter is telling us you better be prepared. So how do we prepare?
A. First of all I believe we need to know our stuff; actually understand what we profess. We really need to know and understand some of the core teaching of the Christian faith. We need to really know what we believe and why. (How would you feel about being treated by a paramedic who hadn’t practice or didn’t know what he was doing?”)
And so how do we do this?
– We not only need to read our Bibles, we also need to study it so that we understand what it is talking about. It don’t believe that that Bible is meant to be read like a novel, rather I believe it is to be digested like an instruction manual. The information in this book is important and crucial and it is worthy of our time and effort to study. I am convinced that some people read their Bibles, but unfortunately many don’t have a clue what many portions of it are talking about. This is where good Bible Study habits can help.
– When I pick apart a text I like to look at what different commentators have to say about it. If I don’t understand certain words I look them up. I even look at the original Greek or Hebrew words and what they meant. All this is easy now with the use of a computer. It’s all on the internet. It’s ok to jot notes in your Bible as a reminder.
– Going to a good Bible Study also helps. Sometimes even listening to good radio lessons help. If you don’t understand something don’t just let it go, dig for some answers, ask for help if you need to.
– Read magazines or books or watch the latest programs on Christian evidences or whatever subject you may want to study to give you an edge.
If you buy a new camera, cell phone, or any other kind of gadget and you what to get full use out if it what do you do. You read and memorize the instruction book. And if you still don’t understand it you seek out someone who does and have them explain it to you.
– We should be as diligent when it comes to understanding our own Christian faith. Don’t assume anything. Learn it, study it, ask questions, and be sure in your own mind. These are some ways we can prepare.
So now that we know what we believe and understand why we believe what advise does Peter give as to how we answer those who may ask:
1) First he tells us to do it with gentleness. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
I don’t know about you but it really irritates me when someone comes across as a boastful know-it- all, even if they are right. But there is something soothing in a person voice when they speak from a humble, caring heart filled with wisdom.
In Ecc. 5:3 Solomon also said, “3 Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.”
Yes, if we are not careful we can say too much. Even if we have a good answerer we can say it with the wrong attitude.
2) The 2nd thing Peter said was to answer with respect. In other words, don’t look down at the person asking you a question about your faith. He or she may be mocking you and Christianity, but they may also be looking for answers as well.
Here again is another place we should be applying the ‘Golden Rule,’ doing unto others they way we would want them to do to us.There is nothing more degrading than someone making you feel dumb because you asked a question. As Christians we should not be-little anyone. Letting a person know that their question is important by giving an honest, gentle, and serious answer show respect. One question can lead to more. Some of the greatest Christians were one time enemies of the faith.
3) And the last recommendation Peter gives here is that we should answer in a way that allow us to keep a clear conscious.
Clear from what? I believe we should answer in a way that keeps us being guilty of being mean, nasty or a know it all.
Also, we don’t have to feel guilty before God when we state the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about our Christianity in times of personal peril.
So why answer in this manner? I believe it is so we can win more to Christ. There is an old saying that says, “You catch more bees with honey that with vinegar.” What does that mean? You are going to attract more or win more over by being good and sweet like honey than you will by being a sour pickle puss. And likewise being knowledgeable, clear, confident, and having a good attitude will attract more curious seekers to Christ and the Church than a grouchy old arrogant Christian.
If you remember from our last lesson Peter reminded us that we are aliens, ambassadors representing our Lord Jesus here on earth. And we can’t do a very good job at doing this if don’t know our stuff, if we are not prepared, and if we don’t have the right attitude.
There is another reason we have to know our stuff, another reason why we need to prepare our self. Jumping ahead to 5:8Peter says this, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
In much the same way that the Apostle Paul warns us in Ephesians 6, where he says, “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground”
Peter and Paul are warning us that we need to prepare for battle! If we are not prepared, if you really don’t know why you believe, you are going to be weak, and un-prepared when you need that knowledge the most. You won’t be able to give a good answer when some asks or challenges you. You may not be a good influence when you have a chance to be. And when Satan or his dark forces come to attack you will have no armor to put on.
Knowledge is power. Faith is a shield. Knowing how to use God’s word properly is like knowing how to use a sword properly. Knowledge ofGod’s word is a life changing force.
Like in the story where the farmer hired that little man who was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm. We, as believers in Christ, need to secure ourselves against the storms of life by grounding ourselves in the Word of God.
Challenge: Read, Study, know your stuff and be on guard…