"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
No Shame + No Fear = No Apologizing, Part 2
January 31, 2010Posted by on
No shame + No Fear = No Apologizing. In the previous blog we focused on the shame that some of us may feel when presented with opportunity to preach the Gospel. We looked specifically at Romans 1:14-16 as the foundation for this principle. In this blog we are going to build onto the formula by taking a look a fear in preaching the gospel. While at face value shame and fear can look the same as you will see they are distinctly different.
So now that you are convinced that you are not to be ashamed, what if you become afraid? The truth is that there is no shortage of God’s word about what to do with fear (Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 23 are but a few examples). These verses serve as a foundation for every Christian that you have nothing to be afraid of or to be anxious about because God will always be with you. In the context of this blog though, let’s focus on 2 Timothy 1:7-9.
7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. (2 Timothy 1:7-9, NIV)
Once again I see your eyes burning a hole in this passage focusing on the word ashamed. Why is this passage part of no fear instead of no shame? Context. Paul is writing this letter to Timothy as a prisoner. Why is Paul a prisoner? Focus on the word timidity. The translation above is the NIV translation. The King James Version uses the word fear. Lets look at v. 7 with the word fear.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)
Now back to the question, Why is Paul a prisoner? Because he showed no fear in speaking the truth even though he knew, more than likely, that the consequences of the truth would be prison. Once again Paul is leading by example. In these verses he is calling on Timothy to show the spirit of power that God had given him (v. 7). In this context Paul is imploring Timothy to not be afraid to testify about the Lord, or to treat him like the embarrassing uncle described in our last post, but to join him in a place of no fear. What Paul so elegantly points to at the end of verse 8 and verse 9 is that our suffering is not because of anything that we have done, but is to glorify God through His purpose, and to demonstrate His grace.
Let’s be clear about one thing, if you show no fear in testifying about God and the sacrifice of Christ, there is a high probability that you will suffer. Paul invites Timothy to suffer with him as though it is a birthday party! How amazing is this verse? When you read 2 Timothy 1:7-9 in conjunction with Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10, and Psalm 23 the full picture begins to unfold. There is no doubt that Paul loved to preach the gospel (Romans 1:14) because of the impact that it had on his own life. He had no fear of preaching the gospel because of the foundation that had been laid. That foundation is, God will not abandon us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10, and Psalm 23). As a result, Paul was more than willing to suffer for Christ because he KNEW that his suffering was for the glory of the God who loved him so much.
These actions may seem a little surreal, and actually demonstrate the amount of FAITH that Paul had in God. Paul had actually relinquished total control to God. Paul was walking in faith. This made him righteous – this made him dangerously fearless. Paul didn’t just talk about faith, he didn’t just read about it, and he didn’t just preach about it, HE LIVED BY IT.
The difference between shame and fear is the message delivered. Shame will force you to water down a message and make it palatable to an audience (often to the point the truth is lost). Fear will force you to not deliver the message at all. When you have no shame, and no fear you have a straight forward message of truth, regardless of the consequences. Do not doubt for one second that we, even in today’s society, can act the same way Paul did. God has promised us that we will be okay – not comfortable – not necessarily even happy – but we will have joy and a peace that cannot be explained away. What do you believe, your own emotions or an everlasting God?