Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel
"Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Jesus Christ" - 2 Timothy 2:3
Believing and preaching the gospel constantly put Paul in a bad light. It constantly stirred up other people to shame Paul. As Paul states in 2 Corinthians 11:23–26, he was imprisoned, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times he received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times he was beaten with rods, and once stoned, three times was shipwrecked and had spent a night and a day in the deep. He had been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren. Through it all Paul never felt ashamed of the gospel instead he felt indebted to share the gospel of Christ with all, as the gospel of Christ alone is the power of God unto salvation. In 1 Corinthians 1:22–23, he says, “Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness.”
In today's portion for meditation, 2 Timothy 2:1-13, the Apostle Paul uses three occupations -a soldier, athlete, and farmer - as metaphors to encourage young Timothy to persevere in his Christian faith and remain loyal to the gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than being ashamed of it. Paul knew that Timothy was young, timid, and ministering in a spiritually vulnerable environment in Ephesus. He had been standing against the false teachers and trying to restore order to the church, but he had experienced only minimal success. So, Paul writes to encourage Timothy to persevere in the faith. As Paul was drawing closer to death, he did not want the gospel to dying with him, instead, he requests Timothy to entrust it to reliable people who would continue to pass it on to others.
Paul exhorts Timothy to be focused on his ministry with the same single-minded devotion and perseverance as that of a soldier, and not be distracted by the things of the world. Later Paul goes on to inspire Timothy by using the metaphor of an athlete. Just like the training for an athlete requires an incredible amount of physical and mental endurance where he has to constantly rehearse by the rules of the contest, lest he is stripped of his crown for cheating or breaking the rules, Paul urges Timothy to persevere in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ so that he will receive his reward on Judgment Day and not be disqualified.
The third metaphor Paul uses to call Timothy to perseverance in the faith is that of a farmer. The farming life had many adversities with which to contend: primitive equipment, diseases, drought, hail, wind, pestilence, thieves, etc. If the farmer became negligent or lazy about dealing with these problems, he would not reap a bountiful harvest. But if the farmer would persevere until the end of his labor, he will have the first share of his crop.
Likewise, Timothy was to go about his ministry with consistent hard work and patience in order to reap the bountiful spiritual harvest of souls for Christ. In 2 Timothy 2:10, Paul discloses the ultimate reason why he endures such suffering—it is so that the elect ( those whom God has chosen to receive his grace ) might “obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” It is amazing to realize what Paul is saying here is that he is not suffering for the sake of his own salvation; he is suffering for the sake of others’ salvation. The ultimate benefit of perseverance is salvation and eternal glory—not only for self but for others too!
Paul’s command to Timothy to pass along the gospel reinforces the mission of the church that was first established by Jesus himself. The gospel was never meant to be hidden or stored away. The good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins is meant to be spread to the nations. As Christians, it is still our job to share, teach, and train other people in the gospel. Are we entrusting the gospel to reliable people who will pass it on to others? Are we sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with our children, grandchildren, co-workers, classmates, and neighbors? Like Paul, we should make sure that the message of Christ doesn’t end with our generation.
Father, forgive us for being ashamed of the Gospel; forgive us for those times when we have not shared the very truth that has saved us. May we be eager to share it with others, both in word and deed. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Thought for the Day
When sins become civil rights, there is a temptation for Christians to keep their mouths shut and turn what is supposed to be a public faith into a private faith, but we are commanded to not be ashamed of the gospel. - Mark Driscoll