walk in the word
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. —2 Timothy 1:8-10
By itself, today’s title doesn’t mean much. “Don’t back down” is not an absolute to live by. It needs discernment. If you are acting boldly in ignorance or pride, it would be wise to back down. If a disagreement with someone is about to do damage to a cherished relationship, it may be prudent to step back. But there are times, and the apostle Paul was emphasizing one of these times in this letter to Timothy, when you must not back down: Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.
That word therefore is drawing your attention to the context and pointing to verse 7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” The word translated fear or timidity is only used here in the New Testament. Paul was using it for a shock value. He was saying, Timothy! God didn’t give you that spirit of fear! So, if you are afraid, that’s not God’s Spirit!
And then comes a strong exhortation: do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord. Paul follows it up with echoing the words not ashamed in verses 12 and 16. When you see words repeated in Scripture, listen up, because the Spirit of God doesn’t want you to miss the point: The followers of Jesus Christ, those who are really persevering in their faith, are not ashamed of Christ.
Shame is the opposite of honor. Shame includes feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. When we are ashamed of Christ, we cower. We retreat. We back down. But when we’re not ashamed, we are bold in our faith. We stand our ground. For the church of Jesus Christ, retreat is not an option. In fact, Jesus said in Mark 8:38, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And Peter, who was no stranger to shame, wrote, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Peter 4:16).
So when Paul tells Timothy do not be ashamed, he means don’t retreat, don’t back down—not ever when it comes to the testimony about our Lord! A better interpretation of verse 8 might be, “Therefore do not be ashamed to testify about the Lord.” The idea is that you are in a courtroom and it’s your turn to take the witness stand. People are watching and listening. Your reputation is on the line. Where are your loyalties? Where are you unapologetically standing? Will you speak about what Christ has done for you in front of everybody no matter where the chips fall?
The world is watching those who claim to follow Christ. If you count yourself among them, when it comes to standing for the gospel, the Bible is clear: Don’t back down.
Lord, give me wisdom to recognize when backing down is wise and when speaking boldly is the necessary step. Help me listen for Your Spirit in every situation. If I’m caught by surprise or get advanced warning of an opportunity to testify, may I never be ashamed of Your name. How could I ever be ashamed of the One who gave His Son’s life for me? Thank You, Father for any opportunity You give me to suffer for following Your Son. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
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