walk in the word
“I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Timothy 1:12
Last week our nation celebrated Veteran’s Day (in Canada we call it Remembrance Day.) So, did you remember it? Did it make you pause and think about the whole honor thing? It did me. Perhaps my sensitivity has increased in recent months as our right to freedom has been attacked and the potential of war is all over the news. Never before in my lifetime has the call to courage and honor been more necessary. This is the day to stand and say, I am not ashamed. I’m willing to stand. Bring it on!
On Veteran’s Day, nations remember and honor soldiers from every conflict who have modeled this special brand of courage. But there’s another kind of courage that brands every soldier of the Cross every day of their lives. The apostle Paul calls Timothy to courage in 1 Corinthians 16:13 with four direct orders that would equip him to stand against the enemy. Here they are:
Sounds like marching orders to me. Later in his life, Paul sums them up by saying, “Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:8). “I’m not,” he said in verse 12. Search your Bible for the word “ashamed” and you’ll see it popping up all over: not ashamed, not ashamed, not ashamed. When you see a phrase repeated like this, the Spirit of God is driving home a point. Here’s the truth: real followers of Jesus Christ are not ashamed of Him.
As in any army, retreating or going AWOL is not an option for the Lord’s followers. 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.” (Whoa!) But get this, in 1 Peter 4:16 God promises that “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” In other words, if you get the incredible privilege to stand for Jesus Christ and it really costs you something, you can glorify God for counting you worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. (Again, wow!)
It’s amazing to me that after two thousand years of Christianity, we in our little Western subculture think that suffering for the Lord is somehow unusual. For all the years of the church, most of the Christians have understood that part of following God is that you might be called upon to suffer hardship for His name.
If this truth makes you fearful, then 2 Timothy 1:7 has a word for you. Paul writes “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” The word rendered fear here literally means “cowardice.” Paul was saying, “Hey, Timothy. God didn’t make you a coward!”
A coward runs away in the face of the battle (2 Samuel 9:13). Shame makes us cower. It paralyzes us with a focus on our sin and failures from the past (Romans 6:21). When we are ashamed of Christ, we retreat. We back down. We hide. We keep silent. Paul says, a soldier of the Cross doesn’t do that. Instead, we boldly proclaim Christ. We stand our ground.
Isaac Watts had this all figured out when he wrote this hymn three hundred years ago. Recognize the courage:
Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb?
Shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease?
While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace to help me onto God?
Surely I must fight if I would reign. Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Your Word.
As we paused last week to remember our nation’s courageous servicemen, let’s pause right now to consider our soldier status. Are you pressing forward in your faith or retreating? Here’s a quick test.
Question # 1: When your friends talk about spiritual things, do you share what Scripture has to say about the subject or remain silent? (Have courage: speak up! )
Question # 2: When your faith in God’s Word is challenged by a co-worker, do you stand up to him or back down? (Have courage: fight the good fight! 2 Timothy 4:7.)
Question # 3: When a neighbor discovers that you are a follower of Christ, do you boldly share the Gospel with her or do you feel embarrassed and try to avoid her in the future? (Have courage: boldly proclaim what God has done for you.)
So, how did you do? Ready for a new marching order? Adopt Paul’s word of testimony in Romans 1:16 as your own:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
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