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Don't Be Ashamed To Suffer For Christ

2 Timothy 1:8-9
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, (NIVUK)

Paul was in prison because he preached Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world and the judge of everybody (Colossians 4:3).  Instead of telling Timothy that everything would be all right in Ephesus, Paul told him that there was no shame in suffering for Christ and the gospel.  Godly people are not liked by the world and those who stand up for Jesus may find that they are persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).

This was an important hurdle for Timothy to get over.  Knowing Jesus' experience and Paul’s too, Timothy needed to accept that faith and suffering go together (Philippians 1:29). Once he had accepted that he might well be imprisoned or even killed for his faith, he could then get on with the task of church leadership and evangelism in God’s power and without being held back by fear.  Timothy’s future was in God’s hands and not his.
Neither was Timothy’s role in the church his own idea, but God’s.  The Lord had called him.  That call was set in God’s heart before the universe was created.  So Timothy should not be ashamed.  Rather he should realise the privilege that the God of eternity had called him to preach the gospel, even before the world was made.  So Paul invited Timothy to embrace suffering if that was to be a part of God’s call, because God’s purposes are always perfect.
Nobody enjoys shame or suffering.  But God knows what He is doing and He chooses how we can best glorify Him.  We need to understand that God’s call on our life is not a casual decision, nor can it be negotiated by us; it was decided before time started.  Therefore it is a huge privilege to accept that call and allow the Lord to guide us in whatever way He chooses.  If it involves suffering, then can we not trust the Lord to sustain us through it?  That is a real act of faith, but an essential step … otherwise we will always be tempted to abandon the gospel, and be ashamed of those who have held tightly to the cross of Christ.  Let us not dishonour them or the Lord who suffered greatly for us.

Suffering Saviour. Thank You for Your example of obedience to the Father in suffering for me. Please forgive me for the times when I am frightened of rejection and suffering and try to distance myself from You and Your people. Please help me to see that Your call on my life has existed since before time began; and therefore it is my privilege and responsibility to serve You as You choose whatever the cost. I also pray for my brothers and sisters who are suffering through persecution and ask that You will equip them for the future through Your grace. In Your Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams