ISSUE: 2017, Volume 14, Issue 4
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'Be not . . . ashamed of the testimony of our Lord', 2 Tim. 1. 8.
In verse 6 of chapter 1, Paul encourages Timothy to ‘stir up the gift of God’. This has the idea of a continual ‘rekindling’; just as a fire constantly needs feeding and maintaining, so does Timothy’s gift. As Timothy needed to ‘stir up’ his gift, we too need to be careful that we don’t neglect the gift God has given us; it is so easy to diminish our Christian service through feeding other interests which have no value. In verse 7, Paul gives Timothy three reasons why he doesn’t need to be timid in service: God has provided a spirit of ‘power, and of love, and of a sound [sober and balanced] mind'.
Now in verse 8, after calling Timothy to keep ablaze the gift of God in him, Paul says ‘be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner’. The testimony of the Lord Jesus is a term that is used to describe all the truth about Him as the Son of God. Such as, He was a perfect Man, He lived a sinless life, He had the power to forgive sins and He died for sin, He was raised from the dead, He ascended into heaven and He has promised to return. The testimony of Paul was linked with that of the Lord Jesus; Paul submitted himself fully to the Lord’s will, viewing himself as ‘His prisoner’. What a challenge – not to be ashamed of the great truths about our Lord, or the life He calls us to in His will!
Rather than being ashamed, Paul asks Timothy to be a ‘partaker of the afflictions of the gospel’. This is a call to suffering through being linked with the gospel; Timothy didn’t have to suffer alone, but to partake in the suffering with Paul and others. The gospel generates suffering and Paul knew this more than anyone. It doesn’t just have to be gospel preaching that generates suffering, but the stand of a Christian living out the gospel. Do I suffer because of the gospel? Perhaps today there is a tendency to make the gospel more inviting, up to date, or less offensive. May I be preserved from these temptations and be faithful to the gospel and willing to be a ‘partaker of the afflictions of the gospel’!
'I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed', 2 Tim. 1. 12.
Paul moves from his instructions to Timothy to his personal example. Paul certainly practised what he preached! He suffered because of the gospel that he preached, 2 Cor. 11. 23-28, just as he called Timothy to suffer, but he states in verse 12, ‘nevertheless I am not ashamed’. There were no disappointments or regrets for Paul. This was because of his confidence in God: ‘I know whom I have believed’. At the point Paul was saved, he believed and this provided him with continued confidence; we too can have confidence each day, based on the One we trusted when we were saved, regardless of the circumstances of life.
Paul was also ‘persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day’. Not only was Paul’s confidence in who God is, but in His ability, strength and power to ‘keep’. This is like a soldier standing guard over Paul’s salvation and his life’s faithful service for the Lord. It was all invested and safe ‘against that day’. Paul looked forward to a time of reward. The physical beatings and prison sentences because of the gospel, were all worth it for Paul; he looked forward to a day of reward. He was not ashamed.
What a statement of faith! Paul could say, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ’, demonstrating his confidence in the message he preached and his diligence in preaching it. He could call Timothy not to be ‘ashamed of the testimony of our Lord’ and was willing to suffer for the gospel. Through all his suffering as a Christian, Paul could say, ‘I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed’. No looking back with regret, his confidence was in God and his sights were set on a future day of reward.
With God’s help, may I declare in my own Christian life and experience that ‘I am not ashamed’ and faithfully serve my Lord and Saviour.