We can learn how and when to answer by studying Christ and the Prophets.
One of my favorite mixed martial artists is Frankie “The Answer” Edgar. A longtime veteran of the sport with notable wins and another upcoming title challenge. He is also a family man. What first garnered my attention before his thrilling trilogy with Gray Maynard was his nickname; “The Answer.” In a sport where the nicknames are usually barbaric such as: “Natural Born Killer”, “Crusher”, “Bones”, and “the Korean Zombie”, Frankie Edgar’s stood out.
I have frequently pondered on 1 Peter 3:15 that exhorts us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” This, in part, has fueled my Gospel study to best respond to detractors as well as genuine truth-seekers. I certainly do not know everything, even most things about the Gospel, but the simple truths of Jesus Christ being our Savior and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon are reason enough for us all to hope. Beyond that, there are sometimes specific questions we are asked or even accusations brought against us. How do we answer those? Do we even need to? What of the commandment found in Matthew 7:6 to not cast pearls before swine?
In addition, Alma taught his son Helaman that he would need to “forbear” due to certain truths of the Gospel that can only be understood through revelation not yet being “fully made known” to him.
How does forbearance and not casting pearls to swine sync with “always give an answer?” Perhaps our emphasis should be focused on “always be ready” and the preparation that comes through study, prayer, and testimony care. I submit the Savior, as well as the Brethren, are very careful in their words and exhortations to defend our beliefs, stand as witnesses, and give answers. We should follow their examples.
Even when Alma chose to forbear, he wasn’t saying, “I don’t have an answer,” but rather, as so often is the case in this life, “exercise faith and pass the test for which we are here.” I believe we should prepare ourselves to be ready and willing to give an answer, and the Spirit will fill our mouths “when” the time is indicated. As we “treasure up in our minds” the scriptures, then we will know the “how.”
“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
Jesus Christ always gave an answer. Whether in the form of parables, prophecies, questions of His own, or even “not a word” (Matthew 15:23). I endeavor to pay careful attention to how Jesus answers.
Sometimes answering with our own questions can help determine the efficacy of further engagement. As I read the Come Follow Me lesson last week, I learned when some of the Jewish bigwigs asked Jesus what right He had to turn out the desecrators of the Temple, He asked them a question they couldn’t answer honestly. “And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mark 11:33)
Answers are essential. Jesus Christ stands at the door and knocks. We must answer. We are invited, even commanded, to ask, and we will receive answers. As a mixed martial artist myself, I chose the nickname “the Saint,” as in a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also because I try and be friendly and gentle in the cage. But in the ring or the cage, as in life, you always need to be able to take a punch and answer back with one of your own.
“Answering Gospel Questions” on churchofjesuschrist.org
You can read Brett Cain’s latest book and follow him on Twitter @BrettCainBooks.