Do Not Be Ashamed
It’s far too easy to be ashamed—to be ashamed of the Master, of the Master’s servants, and of the Master’s message. Therefore, it is a great challenge to hear how Paul exhorts Timothy, and us, to “not be ashamed.”
Vague talk about religion, God, and spirituality is largely tolerable in Western culture; we often hear or read all kinds of ambiguous statements that seem to be loosely aligned with the gospel. What is unacceptable by society’s standard, though, is a clear declaration that there is salvation in no one other than Jesus Christ. If we are prepared to claim with Peter that there is “no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), then Paul’s word to Timothy here will be a word for us: “Share in suffering for the gospel.”
Paul’s invitation to join in the privilege of suffering for the gospel is, in one sense, troubling to us. It stands in stark contrast to the Christian triumphalism of our day, which always seeks to present Christian living in glowing colors. So many want only to confirm and affirm God’s power to heal, to accomplish miracles, and to lead His people to victory. The Bible and human experience, however, tell us that in the vast majority of cases—and leaving aside death as the ultimate healing—those for whom we have prayed will continue to suffer and live in the midst of difficult days. We must tell the truth: in the words of John Newton, the Christian must pass “through many dangers, toils and snares”—and there are always more trials just over the horizon, especially if we are to remain faithful to the call to preach the gospel to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).
How, then, are we to persevere in suffering for the gospel? It is the power of God, through the grace of God, that keeps us to the end. Newton’s lyrics speak to this reality: “’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” A wonderful truth!
God has saved you, and He can hold you fast in the midst of suffering. God has commissioned you, and He can give you courage when you are called to testify to the truth about Him. The truth of His sustaining power is able to stir your heart and transform your life. In the midst of difficult and doubt-filled days, you can cling to this reality as a bastion for your soul. And when you are tempted to shrink back from standing up for the Master, His servants, or His message, you can look to His power, offering up a silent prayer for your witness to be effective as you open your mouth to speak. “Do not be ashamed.”
Longing to Go to Rome
8First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 13I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,3 that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,4 both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,5 as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”6
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