It isn’t always easy to stand up and be strong in our faith. It seems everywhere we turn we face obstacles and temptations. Satan does his absolute best to deter us from following Jesus.
No matter our age, our background, or our education, none of us is immune to the difficult task of standing up and contending for our faith in Jesus Christ. In my years of experience in the secular work force and vocational paid ministry, I have found the challenges of contending for the faith to be difficult in both areas.
Maximizing Our Opportunities
We want to make the best of our daily encounters with family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances by seeking opportunities to share our faith. For the past few months, I have been thinking more about the challenges I have faced when trying to stand up for what I believe. I also consider how to stay strong in the midst of adversity when I face a world that does not want to hear the gospel.
The apostle Peter wrote, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15, 16). Peter challenged his readers to be ready at all times to offer a reason for their belief. Are we ready to share how we came to know and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? Are we prepared to share what we believe and why we believe it? I have been caught off guard many times by people who brought up questions about my faith and about religion in general. I’m not very good at coming up with great answers to on-the-spot questions. I am a thinker and it takes me time to digest questions and think about how I should respond.
Trusting in God’s Presence
With this hesitancy, I am reminded that God promises to be with me and that he will give me the words I need to share even though I often don’t know exactly what to say. I am sure many of you are the same way. It is difficult to be ready to answer questions that catch us off guard and leave us wondering how to respond.
When opportunities arise to share my faith, I often become timid. I don’t know how people will respond or what they will say if I share my faith. I have had this fear for many years. I am more comfortable talking about my faith when I’m around other believers, but with unbelievers, I tend to turn into a mess of words. Through the many years of this struggle, I continue to pray that God will give me strength to be bold in sharing.
Peter also reminded us that as we share our faith with others, we must do so with gentleness and respect. Though we may disagree with certain people when it comes to the Christian life and faith, we must always speak and act respectfully. We should never get angry or respond in ways that hinder our opportunity to share God’s love.
In these conversations, we simply need to trust that God will give us the words and that the Holy Spirit will speak through us. In our conversations with unbelievers, we want to relate with them but not to the point of being influenced in a negative way. We don’t want to join in and support the way they talk. It’s tough to decide where the “fine line” is in these situations. We want to make sure that we are striving to live, speak, and witness so that people will see that we are genuine about our faith. Even if they don’t agree, they may come to respect who we are and possibly even change the way they act and talk around us.
So, how do we live, speak, and witness in ways that contend for the faith? Let’s consider the words of Paul in Colossians 4:2-6.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Paul emphasized the importance of being wise in the way we act toward unbelievers. In our daily conversations, we always need to be ready for opportunities to use encouraging words and build others up. This is one way we can live, speak, and witness as we contend for the faith.
Making an Impact
The New Living Translation renders this, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive.” This doesn’t mean we water down the truth or talk the way other people talk. Instead, it suggests that our clean conversations become attractive to people who take notice and are drawn in.
We have opportunities every day to share and contend for our faith. Knowing this, Paul added, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV). When we build others up, we become a powerful influence on them for the kingdom. Sharing our faith is tough, but God promises to be with us and give us the strength we need live, speak, and witness for him.
It’s challenging to stand up and contend for the faith today. Thankfully, we can trust God to give us the strength, wisdom, and words to impact those around us with the saving message of the gospel.
Zach Wood is a Purchasing Representative for Taylor Corporation at Label Works in North Mankato, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.