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October 19, 2012

Stand // Day 5

Two Attitudes Essential to Stand Fearless

But in your hearts set apart 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 behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)

To stand fearless doesn’t mean you have the right to be offensive or rude. We’ve all met people who may have had a noble stand but they stood in an ignoble way, contrary to the character of Jesus. I find that the world is not nearly as intolerant of our faith as it is the way many of the “faithful” present it.

Peter is a good example in the New Testament of a man who followed Christ and took a stand for Jesus. He even claimed he would die for Christ before he allowed Jesus to suffer or be killed. He defended that claim by swinging a sword at one of the men who came to apprehend Christ in the garden. Aiming for the guy’s head, he cut off his ear instead. You could say Peter was taking his stand in that garden. But, he had much to learn about the way to stand fearless that would display the character of Christ. Through his own failures and recovery, Peter got the message. He later wrote these words in 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV) “But in your hearts set apart 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 behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Did you catch what he said? When we set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts, when He has made an eternal imprint on our soul, then we can leave an eternal footprint. Then we will be able to stand and give an answer to everyone for the hope that we have bringing lasting hope to every heart. But take careful note of the attitude with which we do it. Peter said, “But do this with gentleness and respect …” That doesn’t even sound like the same guy swinging his sword in the garden, does it? It’s what gives me hope that if association with Jesus could transform this brash, impulsive follower ready to kill someone who threatens what he believes into the mature Christ-like servant willing to suffer instead of striking back, then we can, too! If we are to stand fearless, we must do so in the character of Christ with gentleness and respect. As we do, the Bible says that “even those who speak maliciously against (our) good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

As our world becomes increasingly more polarized and we are challenged to stand contrary to popular opinion, be careful to present the message of Christ in the spirit of Christ with gentleness and respect. In the garden, Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath ….” Then Jesus did the unthinkable. He healed the man’s ear. Peter never forgot it. Have you been wielding a sword in your stand for Christ? Offensive or rude? Make sure the sword you use is the Sword of the Spirit, but use it with gentleness and respect. When you do, you will leave an eternal footprint just as Jesus did in Peter’s life.