In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter urges us to set the Lord God apart in our hearts. He says that to Christians facing threats, persecutions, and trials for doing that very thing. We can mark it down that faithfulness to Christ on earth will cost us something. At times, the something may be serious as our property (Heb. 10:34), our freedom (Eph. 6:20), our family’s acceptance (Mat. 10:21), and even our lives (Rev. 2:10). Whatever the price for our faithfulness and loyalty to God, we must pay it. In this verse, Peter urges us to set the Lord apart in our hearts by a certain preparation. He is saying, “Be ready!”
But, ready for what? The “what” is a “defense.” Are you ready to give a defense for why the Christian life is the life one must live? People will raise arguments, have quibbles, and be eager to dispute the biblical things you cling to and hold dear. The only way to give answers is to prepare yourself through study (cf. 2 Pet. 3:18). Peter is giving instructions in this letter, and if they learn these things they will be equipped to defend their faith. Are we ready to do that–with coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family?
Ready for who? Peter says “who” is “everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” There will be agreeable people, but there will also be antagonistic people. Some are soft-spoken while others are sarcastic. But, anytime anyone is curious to know what makes us spiritually “tick,” we should be prepared to speak about that living hope (cf. 1Pet. 1:3).
Ready how? The “how” is “with meekness and fear.” Our society values the sharp-tongued wit who can win the debate, but such a worldly attitude will not win people to Christ. Peter says to be ready with meekness and fear, no trace of arrogance, no boisterousness, and no vengefulness. He had said that they needed to be tenderhearted and courteous, “Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling” (1 Pet. 3:8-9). How tragic to win the argument and lose the soul!
You cannot “wing it,” trying to remember that lone nugget from a sermon or Bible class, straining to rely on Bible study done long months or years ago, or attempting to live off the teaching of parents or other long ago instructor. As with anything of value, you must stay current in Bible study. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”