13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong. I Peter 3:13 -17 NLT
Even in biblical times, there were whistle-blowers! Folks willing to boldly speak the truth in love in spite of potential consequences. That takes courage, not just over the fear of being ‘harmed’; but the fear of being ostracized, rebuked, rejected, mocked. Because the kicker comes in the later part of verse 15: “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. (OK, so far so good) And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” (Emphasis mine)
That is tougher. We often become unsure of our ability to ALWAYS be ready or able to explain our faith. I certainly know that I am far from perfect; even on my best days I fall miserably short of Jesus’ righteousness. So, who am I, to hold other people accountable in their faith walk? Who am I to personally “blow the whistle” for them when I see them making bad choices:
- the friend that always has an excuse for sporadic or nonexistent church attendance
- the one that attends service yet never participates in service – they serve ‘seat time’
- the parent that provides every physical need for their child(ren) but neglects their spiritual needs out of their busyness, inconvenience or dare I say – selfishness of time
- the individual that desires to serve but has no family support or encouragement. Perhaps they even place obstacles in their pathway.
- the “one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back” Luke 9:62
- the believer whose daily life is far outside the desires God has for us to live in relationship with him.
We are called to hold one another accountable.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Galatians 6:1-5
How do we respond to these dilemmas and NOT be afraid? Our scripture verses give us clear insight.
- If we are doing good / the right thing – why would anyone want to ‘harm’ us. Physical harm rarely is a possibility when holding a fellow believer accountable, but other consequences are real.
- But, EVEN IF we do personally suffer for our right actions; (and there is the key – our motives must be pure and our hearts must be right before God) – God will honor us!
- So, don’t worry OR be afraid. INSTEAD;
- Worship the LORD. Let your life be representative of His love. Worship isn’t just a Sunday morning event; it is a manner in which we live our lives. Every decision and action is filtered through, ‘Does this bring honor and glory to God?’ Instead of ‘Does this benefit me or make me look good?’
- Then when we are challenged by others, we have a foundation on which to stand, the righteousness of Christ, not my own righteousness but HIS which covered me at the cross. That righteousness give us the confidence to go forward with the next critical steps.
- Be ready to explain our hope: the righteousness we attained through Christ and our certain future in His kingdom.
- But – do it in a gentle and respectful way.
- And finally; our conscience must be clear before God. We must be living in accordance with His will, following his path in obedience.
We all need a ‘whistle blower,’ someone unafraid to speak the truth in love when we become side tracked. If you’re like me you can look back and recall times when we wish there had been a whistle blower and on other occasions we are grateful there WAS a whistle blower. Even though our society is more connected through technology than ever before, it is also less connected on a personal level. Accountability requires a personal relationship and that means time, commitment, a personal investment and a willingness to shine the light of truth.
It’s time to step up and be willing to blow the whistle, don’t allow the thief to steal again.
In his merciful grace,
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 NLT