gratitude & hoopla: Don't Be Ashamed!

gratitude & hoopla

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

25.5.06

Don't Be Ashamed!

Paul says, "Don't be ashamed of the testimony" (2Tim 1:8) Don't be ashamed, in other words, of the message of the gospel that God has entrusted to you. Have you ever thought about the Gospel of Jesus Christ as something entrusted to you? If you are a preacher then I'm sure you have. And the trust is that you will share it.

The word "shame" seems often to be associated with defeat in the Bible. The Psalmist, for example, again and again depicts a situation in which he is surrounded by countless enemies stronger than himself, and he cries out to God, let me not be put to shame, but let those who come against me be put to shame (see for example Psalm 25:2 and many other).

In Paul's second letter to Timothy, the inference is strong that ministers of the Gospel are coming under attack, and many have indeed been put to shame (see v15). They have turned their backs, run and hid. They were not willing to "share in suffering for the gospel," as Paul says (v8b). And how does one find such willingness? Well, it is only "by the power of God," says Paul. Which brings us around again, as usual with Paul, to faith.

So we have here a picture of Timothy, whom Paul suspects may be feeling somewhat shy about exercising his ministerial gift (which in my opinion was probably preaching) out of fear of persecution. Paul's argument goes like this:
Timothy, my son, you have a deep faith abiding in you, so I urge you to fan into flame the gift of God that is in you--your gift of conveying the good news of Jesus Christ--and don't let fear or timidity hold you back. Be willing to share in the suffering of Christ, as I myself have done, only by the power of God. After all, Timothy, ours is a holy calling. God purposed us to be his message-bearers in Christ before the ages began! By this message we are able to bring life and immortality to light to those who sit in darkness, which is a part of God's eternal plan. So don't panic. God has given you a spirit not of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. Meanwhile, he is more than able to guard what he has entrusted to you. So then, be strengthened, Timothy, by the grace--the whole wonderful and ever-sufficient bounty--that is in Christ Jesus.
See how God-centered is Paul's focus. Everything, aboslutely everything, that he relies on for his strength is found it seems in Christ. Paul is relentlessly dependent on God and on the things of God. That's where he puts his focus, that's where he trusts, that's where his hope lies. May it be so also with us.

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