Wednesday, June 24
Scripture: Joel 1-3, 2 Timothy 1
2 Timothy 1:8 So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.
2 Timothy 1:12 That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.
2 Timothy 1:16 May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.
Three times in this chapter Paul references not being ashamed.
- He tells Timothy not to be ashamed to tell others about Jesus, and not to be ashamed of Paul the prisoner.
- He says that he is not ashamed of suffering in prison for Jesus’ sake.
- He mentions that Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul’s status as a prisoner, but visited him often.
Why all this talk about not being ashamed?
First, in the first century Roman world, to die by crucifixion was the most shameful death imaginable. It was the death of a criminal; one died naked and exposed and shamed. The idea of a crucified God was unthinkable, but this was exactly the Christian message. This is why Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation.” Jesus died in the most shameful way possible. It would have been easy and natural for Romans to feel ashamed of this, which is why Paul was constantly saying, “Don’t be ashamed.”
Second, and similarly, it was a shameful thing to be imprisoned then, as it is now. If you’re in prison, people assume that you did something terrible and deserve to be there. It’s no wonder that many of Paul’s partners in ministry abandoned him after he was imprisoned (see v. 15). Who wants to be associated with a convicted criminal? Of course, Paul would remind them that we’re following and worshipping a convicted criminal who died the most shameful death possible.
Paul’s call to not be ashamed of Jesus the crucified God, or of Paul the prisoner for Jesus’ sake was very counter-cultural. Where most would naturally feel ashamed, Paul called for loving association and bold witness.
It’s a good time to be reminded, “Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be ashamed of Jesus, of His gospel, of His servants.” Some Christians behave badly and bring shame on the name and cause of Jesus—I appropriately feel ashamed of them. (May I never be one.) But I should never be ashamed of my brothers and sisters who share the gospel, represent Jesus well, and suffer because of that. And I should never be ashamed of Jesus, my crucified Lord.
The message of Jesus and the cross remain offensive to many. Don’t be ashamed—it’s the power of God for salvation. If you understand that power, you never need to be ashamed or back down; instead, be bold and proclaim Him and His good news.
Prayer: Lord, help me—and every one who follows You—to never be ashamed of You and to boldly proclaim the good news.