“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” 1 Peter 3:15
Everyone experiences hopelessness at sometime—it’s inevitable. When lives fall apart through heartbreak or tragedy, finding optimism can seem impossible. How can a person keep from losing hope in trying seasons of life?
We may think that hope is the happy, smiling demeanor that looks at life like a computer reset button with the ability of starting over. Realistically, that’s not always the case. Sometimes tragedies don’t allow a reset to the routine of life. We’re left with a new normal to contend with, an unwanted change forced upon us. Hope’s job is not so much to get us to smile in hard times, as it is to actually look at calamities with confident expectation that somehow difficulties will make us stronger. Maybe hope will lead to a smile, but then again, maybe not. Having hope is something more; it’s the reason to continue on!
In any case, Peter’s focus is to tell others of the “reason for the hope that is in you.” What is it that moves you forward in difficulties? It’s not that Peter didn’t know what he was talking about. The man lived during days of severe Roman oppression. No doubt the “Here I am awake at 2:00am worries,” was something Peter was familiar with. When you think about it, Peter not only faced the dangers of a hostile society, but also saw his own failures as a denier of Jesus. Without and within Peter was no stranger to tragedy—yet somehow he found a reason for sharing hope with others. How did he keep his hope in the face of adversity?
The start of our verse gives a hint, this time reading it from the New American Standard Bible we find:
“…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…”
That word sanctify is essentially the thought of “dedicating or hallowing” something that’s too important to be ignored.¹ The NASB translation captures the power of the word cluster as, “sanctify Christ as Lord.” The thought is the object not only receives dedication but also domination, meaning Lordship—because it’s too important to be discounted.
And where does this sanctifying need to take place if we’re to experience hope? The answer is “in your hearts.” That’s more than a “once week I visit God” obligation. What “Christ as Lord in your hearts” implies is an around the clock dedication. Peter is essentially saying that the person that puts Christ first in the heart finds hope; now feel free to share that hope with someone else that needs it too! Strength is found in the midst of tragedy as Christ is honored in the heart as holy. Jesus is the confident expectation that somehow we’re made stronger through difficulties. It’s worth it to set Christ apart in dedication and as Lord of all. Instead of trying to hit the reset button of life, see if He can give you hope by putting Him first!
J. Robert Hanson
¹ Thayer’s Greek Lexicon