Shame and Ashamed
In 2 Timothy 1:8-12 Paul writes to Timothy with an affirmation to not be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus Christ and reminds Timothy that our salvation is based in that testimony. Christ not only saved us, but gave us a holy calling that is not according to how we are, but according to how He is. Too many times we think about serving Christ in accordance with how good or bad we are; or how busy or burdened we are with life itself. If we choose to serve Christ out of that vantage point then we will never serve as He wants us to serve. We are to serve Christ out of His Purpose. What is His purpose? Share His Message!! Salvation for those who are lost is at the center of that purpose and that center is built upon the grace of God. That grace makes it possible for sinners who are living in it to tell other sinners who aren’t living in it how to get there. Confusing? Possibly at first, but let’s explore these points. If you come up to a person who knows your past and tell them about new life in Christ, they have the opportunity to reference your past and thus water down your message. Your testimony is too weak to stand on it’s own because of the sin in your life in the past and the present. That’s also a good measuring stick for someone sharing their testimony of being delivered by Christ. If they only share their testimony and don’t bring in the testimony of Christ, then that testimony will not have power. Both must be present and Christ’s testimony must be the focus. I have heard numerous “famous” people share their testimony of deliverance from the penalty of sin and see people “come to Christ” because that “famous” person shared such a compelling story. That is great if the testimony of Christ is included as well. You see, we give ourselves way too much credit in this whole testimony thing and that credit is only to be given to Christ. I remember when I first met Rich Wingo, former Alabama Football Player and Green Bay Packer. I was awestruck by the power of his testimony, but only because in his humility he put Christ’ message as the focus and Rich’s story was the byline. Now that is an effective testimony.
Paul continues on in this frame of thinking and gets to the heart of the message in these verses when he says “don’t be ashamed of the testimony of Christ.” Here are some quick definitions to help the truth along: shame – a painful feeling of humiliation caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Ashamed – embarrassed or guilty feelings due to ones actions, characteristics, or associations. I think you can see where I’m going here and you will definitely see where Paul was going. I think somewhere back in the deep recesses of our Christian minds there is a “kind of” embarrassment about Christ and heaven, and salvation. Our American society is so pious and prideful at times due to very competitive actions, and that causes us to not want to deal with the humility issue. I’m as guilty as the next person, but in reality we sometimes come across as ashamed of Christ. You might say, “not me. I’m never ashamed!” So how many people have heard the message or testimony of Christ through you today? Ooops. Sometime after our initial joy of salvation, we were able to make our faith more “politically correct” and palatable. We used personal faith models such as daily quiet times, conferences, church attendance, giving, and many other Christian “actions” as a way to subdue the heart of the matter of our salvation. “When in reality we are supposed to share it with EVERYONE!” It’s not like those other things are bad, but it means we have become distracted at best and lazy at worst. We don’t want to rock anyone’s boat and we for sure don’t want to offend anyone. So, we have repackaged the gospel to be more “people pleasing.” That kind of sounds ominous doesn’t it? That’s because it is….. This whole frame of thinking could go on and on and Paul eludes to that fact by stopping it at verse 9. He says, “Grace was granted to us in Christ Jesus.” It was entrusted to us. Pure and simple, we are the bearers of the answer to the questions of life. Woh! Now this is really starting to get gravity….uh heavy. The gravity or weight of the whole thing is immense and Christ even gives us time restrictions by saying, “Live for today, cause you don’t know if you have tomorrow.” We must shuck these Ashamed chains and get back to the reason for the whole thing…..SALVATION – HEAVEN-ABUNDANT LIFE!!! How? Share the testimony of Christ along with your testimony in a very personal, real way. When? As you go! To Who? To whoever will listen! Why? Because you are the one who has been entrusted with this message by the King of Kings!
Here’s where the other word, shame, will come in very strong. In verse 12 Paul says “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Believe it not, God is guarding that message He has put in your life and His protection is there to insure that when you share it you walk away free, not feeling any shame because you shirked your calling. You did it. Just a word of warning:it is likely you will feel shame if you don’t share it and that shame will build a stronghold of compromise in your life that develops a side of us that resembles sin. We do not want that because compromise becomes an idol in our life that takes away from our worship and our relationship with Christ. Remember, Paul could see the inner workings of salvation and he shared this message with his son in the ministry to equip him to handle daily life. We need it for the very same reason so it will keep us from feeling shame and being ashamed of the very life we have received. We must share the whole message to be able to stem the tide of shame and being ashamed. Keep on growing and keep on knowing…
The Pilgrimage continues….