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.1 Peter 1:15
I have heard this verse countless times over the years, but a few days ago in my devotions, something about it hit me differently. I noticed that the first phrase and second phrase are connected ideas and not separate ones, which is what I had always thought before. Instead of honoring “Christ the Lord as holy” and “always being prepared to make a defense” for our faith being two separate actions, I realized that they are, in fact, one and the same.
In other words, we honor Christ when we defend our faith or tell others about him. Now, this may seem very obvious. “Of course Christ is honored when we defend our faith,” you may say. After all, we are told to do all things for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17), and defending Christ certainly falls in that category, doesn’t it? Yes. That part is easy. But how we actually honor Christ by defending him is what I’m interested in. It’s one thing to know something. It’s another thing to know how it works.
Christ is honored when we defend him and tell others about him because it shows the value we ascribe to him. If we don’t value something, we’re not going to spend our time telling other people about it. For example, I can buy a cheap set of pens for school to take notes with, but they’re not very valuable to me because 1) they didn’t cost a lot in the first place, and 2) they’re easily replaceable if they break or stop working. I’m not going to go around telling everyone about what great pens I have because they’re really not that valuable.
But if we do value something, especially if it is the thing we value most above all other things, we will spend our entire lives telling others how much that thing means to us. In this case as Christians, Christ is the most valuable thing in our lives. Unlike the pens, he is of infinite value. The Apostle Paul makes this clear as he says:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11)
That was a long quote, but I think it is so important to understand. Paul says he doesn’t just see everything as a net neutral in helping him know Christ, he sees them as a net negative. He sees everything, namely, his self-righteousness (see verses 2-6) as a hindrance to him knowing “the surpassing worth of…Christ Jesus my Lord.” Paul is perfectly content losing everything he has on earth, even his own life (Philippians 1:20-23) if it means he gains Christ. Christ is infinitely valuable and irreplaceable.
So because Christ is infinitely valuable and irreplaceable, as compared to the example of the pens I gave or really anything else, why should we not tell other people about him? If you get your dream car, whatever that may be, will you not spend time showing it off and telling your friends you finally got the car you’ve always been wanting?
But how is Christ actually honored in being proclaimed? We have established that he is worth telling others about, but we must now answer how he is glorified in that. Perhaps a quote from Jonathan Edwards, an 18th century preacher and theologian, will shed some light on this. He says, “God is glorified not only by his glory’s being seen, but also by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they had only seen it.”
Are we not rejoicing and delighting in God’s glory when we proclaim Christ? Yes, we are! When we see the infinite value and worth of Christ, how it is worth more then anything we could ever gain on earth, we rejoice, knowing that we have the greatest possession in history, and that joy overflows into telling others about what we have experienced. Paul says he preaches “Christ crucified,” (1 Corinthians 1:23). He does this because he sees the value of the cross of Christ, he rejoices in his experience of that value, and then goes on to tell others about the value and joy he has experienced.
God is more glorified when you and I tell others about him, all the while we receive more joy at the same time. It’s a win-win-win. God gets the glory, we get the joy, and others hear about Jesus.