Jeremiah 40:7-41:18; 2 Timothy 1:9-18; Psalms 90:1-17; Proverbs 21:8-10
NT: “He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:9-14 CSB)
In verse 8 of this chapter, Paul told Timothy to not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of Paul who was the Lord’s prisoner – but instead share in suffering for the gospel by relying on the power of God. No one enjoys suffering, and those who do suffer are often viewed shamefully. Many times suffering is viewed as a sign that you have done something wrong and that the suffering is your just punishment. However, Christ suffered immensely – and He didn’t enjoy it much. He even asked the Father to take the cup of suffering away from Him, but as the writer of Hebrews put it, for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross and despised the shame. Christ didn’t do anything to deserve suffering. He did everything right and suffered for the sake of righteousness. Paul was not suffering in prison because he did anything wrong. Paul was suffering because he held fast to what was right – and in suffering for righteousness, he was fellowshipping deeply with Christ.
Paul was also sitting on death row awaiting his execution. Death row inmates are also viewed quite shamefully. To be sitting on death row, one must be the worst of the worst of criminals – guilty of the most heinous of crimes. However, Christ was executed by the state, and He did nothing wrong. In fact, it was because of His completely sinless life that He was the perfect sacrifice for our sin. By His innocent death, He defeated sin, abolished death and gave us everlasting life and immortality through faith in Him. Paul was appointed to be a herald of the good news of Jesus’ victory over sin, hell and death – and it was because of his faithfulness to that call that he was sitting on death row… soon to enter into eternal life with His Savior and Lord.
Though Paul was suffering immensely… though he would soon be executed by the Roman Empire… though he was probably considered by many to be a shameful excuse for a person, Paul was not ashamed. He knew who He was serving. He knew who His Lord and Master was. He knew that through his suffering and even death for the sake of the kingdom of God, he would receive an eternity of rewards and blessing. Timothy didn’t need to be ashamed… and if Timothy held on that that which Paul held on to, Timothy would eventually receive the same reward.
No one wants to go through suffering, and no one wants to be martyred for their faith. But suffering is often part of the life of a faithful follower of Christ. Some people suffer because they truly have done wrong, but that should not be the case for a faithful follower of Christ. There will be times when a faithful follower of Christ will suffer for righteousness sake. Don’t let the fear of suffering, or even death, move you away from truth and righteousness and into compromise. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12 CSB) I know that Jesus is faithful to His word, and I am persuaded that He is willing and able to keep this promise to those who hold on to righteousness, truth and the gospel of Christ until that day.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You were willing to suffer and die for my sake – so that I could enjoy an abundant life here on earth and a glorious eternity of life with You. Just as You were willing to endure the suffering while despising the same, help me to be willing to do the same. Grow my faith to know that whatever I face in Your name, Your grace will be sufficient for me as I hold on to You in faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.