Friday, April 6, 2018

Do Not Be Ashamed

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.  That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” (II Timothy 1:7-12 NIV)

At the time Paul wrote his second and final letter to Timothy, he was imprisoned in Rome and was facing certain death.  He wanted to make clear to his spiritual son certain things before he was executed.  One was not to cower from or be ashamed of his identity as a follower of Jesus.  It was a dangerous time for Christians.  Rome was stepping up its persecution of believers, the Jews were not at all fond of this burgeoning spiritual movement, and the culture of the day viewed followers of Jesus in two extremes—either as hapless fools or dangerous interlopers.  It was a time when many believers were losing their courage, as Paul personally experienced (1:15)

So Paul tells Timothy not to be ashamed of the Gospel or those associated with its message.  Instead of avoiding the suffering that comes with proclaiming the Gospel, he encourages him to embrace it. While the world may be coming against believers, Paul tells Timothy there is no reason to be ashamed because he has confidence in the Lord.  He had given his life over to the Lord and trusted Him to protect his soul and spirit.  It had to be his soul and spirit to which he was referring, rather than his life, because he knew he was about to die.  

Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)  I think Paul had this promise in mind as he wrote to Timothy.  

Our world is not much different than that of the 1st Century in terms of persecution of Christians.  And even in our country, while we are not yet facing the prospect of death for our faith, there is an increasing hostility to those of us who truly believe.  There is pressure from without and within to cower in fear and be ashamed of the Gospel.  It may come in the form of a hesitancy to proclaim Jesus as the only way to God, acquiescence to the cultural narrative that any behavior is acceptable as long as it is not hurtful to someone else, or a reluctance to acknowledge that you are a follower of Jesus for fear of being rejected by friends or family.  In the midst of those fears, Paul tells us not to be ashamed because the God in whom we believe is faithful to protect us.

Today, do not be ashamed of Jesus or of the Gospel.  Rather, rely on the power of the Spirit to make you bold and unafraid of the suffering you might experience because you follow Jesus.  He has promised to protect your soul and spirit and He is faithful.  He will do it.

© Jim Musser 2018

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