“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15–16, ESV)
When I worked in field service engineering, I supervised the installation of an electronic control system on an industrial printing press in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Everything was going well and we could do most of the installation without shutting down the machine. The last part of the installation involved shutting the machine for a shift removing part of the motor control system and installing a new set of motor controls. It may seem simple, but it was quite complicated.
After switching everything over, the engineer from the company that made the new control system checked everything out and did the start- up and testing of the new system. He threw on the power to the new system and nothing happened. He did some investigation and discovered that the manufacturer’s wiring on their panel was wrong and basically the entire control system burned up.
This was not good news for the company that owned the printing press since now they had no way to effectively run the machine. This is when it hit the fan. I had more managers than you could shake a stick at running around in a frantic and frenzied state than you can possibly imagine. I considered the options and informed them that I would simply switch everything back reinstalling the old system. I have to say that the pressure was on and this group of managers were not making my life easy.
In the midst of the chaos that was ensuing, one of the supervisors in the plant came to me and asked, “How are you able to remain so calm with all that is going on?” I simply and calmly replied, “It is only by God’s grace in Christ.” I knew we could get the machine back on line again. It was just a matter of time.
In this section, Peter wrote regarding what believers should do when they are experiencing mistreatment. He is specifically speaking about those who are being mistreated for righteousness’ sake, persecution (v13-14). He told them to maintain a Christlike posture holding to the hope they had in Christ. His point was that people may see their good conduct and character in the midst of the trial and ask how they could endure with such hope. They were to be ready in such situation to give an answer.
Responding in a Christlike matter in difficult situations will give one an opportunity to present a strong witness for the Lord. Some may come to faith. Others may be put to shame. Yet, in every case, it is far better in the Lord’s eyes to suffer for doing good than to suffer for doing evil.
The moral of the story is this. Always seek to do good, even when you suffer for it. The Scripture tells us that if we suffer for doing good that we will experience a blessing (v13) and we will be presenting a positive picture of hope to those around us.