15 “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, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (I Peter 3:15-16).
When we follow the Lord’s instructions, such as set forth in I Peter 3:15, we stand before the Lord with a clear conscience. This is because we have done what He has asked. Peter uses the phrase “good conscience” to mean having a moral and beneficial sensitivity before God and other people. This clear conscience is a result of our obedience to God.
This brings us to Peter’s purpose clause in the latter part of vs. 16. God will be pleased with our gentleness and respect to people as we share the gospel, This results in a good or clear conscience. This will help us “when” we are slandered.
Slander (καταλαλέω; katalaleo) means to speak evil of someone (I Peter 2:12). This type of speech is intended to hurt the subject in question. Peter is preparing us for the time when we will be verbally attacked because of our commitment to share the gospel. Again notice that Peter does not say we might be slandered but that we will be slandered. It is not a question of if, but rather only a question of when.
Have people lied about you to others? Have they said things you knew were not true, but perhaps had no way of proving it? Have you experienced the pain of friends believing the lies about you, as told by others? What will happen when people slander us?
If we continue to maintain a gentle and respectful attitude and behavior when people slander us because of our commitment to the truth of God, God will put them to shame. People who dishonor us and our good behavior (anastrophe), God will dishonor.
Peter encouraged his readers with the fact that good behavior, gentleness and respect being but two examples, is their best defense against unjust punishment and persecution.
How have you been slandered recently? Was it by a once close friend? Be encouraged, my friend. God will make it right.
Soli deo Gloria!