“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed” 2 Timothy i:12.
The apostle Paul knew that it was God Almighty who had appointed him as a preacher of the gospel. As he went about fulfilling his calling as a herald of the gospel, he realized that he had to pay a great price in terms of suffering for the gospel.
“For this reason I also suffer these things …” Paul was more than willing to suffer for the gospel because of (a) the greatness of the One who called him, and (b) the greatness of the message that was entrusted to him.
What are the “these things“ Paul is referring to? The apostle was serving time in a Roman prison when he wrote his final epistle to Timothy. Worse still, as was the custom in those days, prisoners were chained (i:16). In a dark and damp cell, Paul must have suffered from cold (iv:13). He missed the company of his close friends; only Luke was with him (iv:11). He was upset because all of his friends had deserted him at his “first defense” (iv:16). The apostle had suffered much more during his long missionary career. In his second letter to the Corinthian church, he did some plain speak. (2 Cor. 11:23-27)
“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed.” During Paul’s days, a number of Christians might have been ashamed of the gospel. They might even have been tempted to distance themselves from ‘fanatic’ Paul and other Christian prisoners. Probably, this is why Paul exhorted young Timothy not to “be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Christ” (i:8).
How could Paul endure chains on his hands and feet? After being humiliated and treated as a common criminal, how could he say, “… I am not ashamed?”
- Paul knew that he was a prisoner for the sake of Jesus Christ. He was “His prisoner” (i:8). To the Ephesians, he wrote, “I am in chains now for preaching this message as God’s ambassador” (vi:20). He was no common criminal!
- Paul believed that his imprisonment was God’s way of giving him special opportunities to witness to kings and judges! Each trial was his crusade! (Col. iv:3) Therefore, he asked churches to pray for him so that he might testify boldly.
- Paul believed that his sufferings would “produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!” (2 Cor. iv:17). Now, who wouldn’t want greater glory in heaven?
- Instead of seeking an escape from suffering, Paul wished to suffer as much as Christ suffered for His church (Col. 1:24*). Fellowship in Christ’s sufferings was the secret to sharing the power of His resurrection (Philippians iii:20). “For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him (2 Tim. ii:11-12).
- Paul believed that suffering for Christ’s sake was not optional; it was part of the package. “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (iii:12).
What a privilege it is to stand up for Jesus Christ and His gospel! Besides, there’s a great reward! Those who seek the approval of the world might escape hardship. But the ‘godly’ will stand up and step aside to identify themselves with Christ and his suffering servants. Next time you see someone proclaim the gospel, will you stand with him/her and share in the sufferings of Christ? Or, will you, being ashamed of the gospel, distance yourself from Christ’s evangelists?
Remember, suffering for Christ is not optional. When was the last time you proclaimed the gospel and suffered a little for Christ?