Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8-14
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:8-9)
The power of the gospel does tremendous things in those who believe. It is ready to transform those who surrender all for Christ. The word “all” means a full-out abandon for Christ. It means giving up everything else which has a place in your heart until the point that you rely your whole life, value, identity and worth in Christ alone. If your faith had to be taken away from you, you would be completely broken with no assets left for hope and joy. How much is the gospel worth to you?
For Paul, it meant everything. Knowing his end is near, Paul writes his last words to his junior co-worker as he sits in prison. Paul suffered for the gospel of Christ because he was appointed its preacher, apostle and teacher. But that was not the primary reason. Paul was a sinner who was saved. While he ran away from God in rebellion to him, murdering many innocent Christians, Jesus came to him and proclaimed the gospel. Christ offered him forgiveness because of the blood Christ had already shed on the cross. The power and bondage of sin and death were broken in Paul’s life. Paul went blind on the road to Damascus. However, when he was healed, scales fell off his eyes, and he could finally see the true reality of life and immortality in the light of the gospel. He understood what a sinner he was and what grace God had bestowed on him.
Paul’s charge to Timothy for the continuation of the church was to “[not] be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). But why, Paul, must we endure hardship and suffering for the sake of the gospel? Because the gospel is the good news that had drastically changed Paul’s life and drastically changed our lives.
Almost spontaneously, Paul blurts out countless reasons why the gospel demands everything. Of course, Paul’s understanding and faith deepened over the years he grew as a Christian, and this statement was made near the end of his life. However, we ought to also grow in savouring the grandeur of Christ’s love.
Why does the gospel demand our all?
Before the ages, God had planned to send Jesus Christ for us. When Jesus came, he accomplished two things. First, He saved us and “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). Not only that, he gave us a holy calling to testify His truth and the message of His kingdom. All of this was given to us, not because of our works but because our sinful works would never measure up to God’s standards. Instead, it was all God’s own grace and purpose which He had decided to give to us before the world was created in Christ Jesus. Moreover, God has now given us His Spirit, who is our councillor and helper. He guards us with the message He has entrusted to us. He works the power of God in our service to Him.
Paul’s life is a testimony to the livelihood and reality of these truths, which resonated in all of Paul’s words and deeds. He asks Timothy to follow in suit with the faith and love Paul had learnt from Christ. Paul’s calling extends to us also. Are we willing to bear the shame and suffering to live all for Christ, who has given all for us?
Lord, make me Your servant. Forgive me when I am ashamed of your testimony. Let me grow day by day in the abundance of Your grace. Teach me to know You and what You have done deeper each day. Break my heart and subdue my heart under Your reign. Because of who You are and what You have done, I surrender my all to You. If shame and suffering await me, let me glory in it. Give me strength by Your Spirit day by day to endure the life of a Christian, a lifelong witness to Your good news. Thank You, Lord. Remember me in the sacrifice and atonement of Christ, amen.