You must be able to defend your words, all the time, every time.
But most people can’t, we cover ourselves in lies, for both external and internal pride, for envy, for some form of assumed power. You will see those in positions of power, especially in the political field do this quite often, they will say something, and then their advisors, or those who they believe will find out the truth, coerce them into recanting, offering apologies these days is a very prevalent thing. There is no shortage of those that are prepared to cast the first stone, (John 8:7) but always from a distance, never too close, or they also may need to apologize.
Many will only retract their words when there is a possibility of personal reprisals, when their true character and integrity may be shown to others. Religious organizations are always prime targets for this, the Roman Catholic cult and small boys, the Mormons and their lavish expenditures, the list is endless, and continuous. But for those who have truly been crucified with Christ, we must always be on our guard, for we represent Jesus Christ. We are the ones who have been sent out to proclaim the good news, the Gospels, we will be held accountable for our words, for though many do not like to think of them as such, words are actions, they hold power.
I am always reminded of those times of Acts 19:19, “Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” There were words in those books that caused things to happen, I do not know how, but that was their purpose.
Any of you who understand the power of the tongue understand full well the use of words, and their ability to control, manipulate, coerce and use people as tools for your ends. “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:5) If you cannot defend your words, if you cannot back them up with verifiable facts, you should not be speaking them.
Here is where trusting in the Holy Spirit is perhaps most important in our lives. Here is the specific reason for 1 Peter 3:15, so that we can give an account of our faith, so that we can defend our words.
It seems that many I meet these days have little concern in this area beyond their own personal walk with the Lord, how they “feel,” for the most part about Him, if they are thinking properly, are they acting, behaving if you like, correctly in such a manner that He will continue to bless them, which generally for these individuals means little more than life is continuing as they would desire it to, with no major interruptions. They have not died to self, (Phil 1:21) they are only attempting to coerce the Lord into not sending any real inconveniences into their lives.
This is the reason that most people that you meet will engage in what is called “small talk,” short conversations about the innocuous matters occurring around all of us, accompanied with opinions that rarely if ever hold any real value, save to themselves. There is nothing to defend, no effort beyond the words is needed, but not so if you are going to speak about your Savior, your unaltering faith in all that He has promised. Here is where those who have attempted to witness to the lost, or even correct a brother or sister in Christ falter, they forget, they are not there to make them believe, that is up to the Holy Spirit, they, we, are simply there to speak the truths of the wonders and glory of God to them that will listen.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Tim. 4:2) To explain when necessary, and always ready to defend every word we have said.
Any “personal” accomplishments must be laid aside, for therein lies the trap of pride, John 15:5 must always be in our minds, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Of ourselves, or our own, we have not once in this life ever accomplished anything that will be counted as worthy in the kingdom of God, not once. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matt. 7:22) Here is where we must learn two important lessons, how to be patient, and how to submit to the will of the Holy Spirit of God.
My friends, if you do not study the Word of God daily, hiding His Word in your heart, (Psalm 119:11) when you are placed in front of another human being, no matter their station in life, no matter if they are saved or lost, when you speak you will have nothing but opinions of the Scriptures, of Christ, without the Scripture verses to tell those that will listen, you will be as a tinkling cymbal (1 Cor. 13:1) to them, a person unable to defend your words. Without the Words of God to back up what you say, they will hear nothing but platitudes.
Will they be convicted by the verses you offer? That is not up to you, that is not your responsibility, that is up to the Holy Spirit, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) You are responsible to God to speak on His behalf, that is your job title.
Do our actions matter in this life, of course, but the lie of Satan that “actions speak louder than words,” is just that, a lie. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14) Here is another excuse that many will use, “I do not feel led to,” what does feelings have to do with faith? Are we not commanded to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) The Word of God is how people hear of God, and you must be able to defend every word that you speak. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)