Do Not Be Ashamed

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. 2 Timothy 1:8-9

It’s far too easy to be ashamed—to be ashamed of the Master, of the Master’s servants, and of the Master’s message. Therefore, it is a great challenge to hear how Paul exhorts Timothy, and us, to “not be ashamed.”

Vague talk about religion, God, and spirituality is largely tolerable in Western culture; we often hear or read all kinds of ambiguous statements that seem to be loosely aligned with the gospel. What is unacceptable by society’s standard, though, is a clear declaration that there is salvation in no one other than Jesus Christ. If we are prepared to claim with Peter that there is “no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), then Paul’s word to Timothy here will be a word for us: “Share in suffering for the gospel.” 

Paul’s invitation to join in the privilege of suffering for the gospel is, in one sense, troubling to us. It stands in stark contrast to the Christian triumphalism of our day, which always seeks to present Christian living in glowing colors. So many want only to confirm and affirm God’s power to heal, to accomplish miracles, and to lead His people to victory. The Bible and human experience, however, tell us that in the vast majority of cases—and leaving aside death as the ultimate healing—those for whom we have prayed will continue to suffer and live in the midst of difficult days. We must tell the truth: in the words of John Newton, the Christian must pass “through many dangers, toils and snares”[1]—and there are always more trials just over the horizon, especially if we are to remain faithful to the call to preach the gospel to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). 

How, then, are we to persevere in suffering for the gospel? It is the power of God, through the grace of God, that keeps us to the end. Newton’s lyrics speak to this reality: “’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” A wonderful truth! 

God has saved you, and He can hold you fast in the midst of suffering. God has commissioned you, and He can give you courage when you are called to testify to the truth about Him. The truth of His sustaining power is able to stir your heart and transform your life. In the midst of difficult and doubt-filled days, you can cling to this reality as a bastion for your soul. And when you are tempted to shrink back from standing up for the Master, His servants, or His message, you can look to His power, offering up a silent prayer for your witness to be effective as you open your mouth to speak. “Do not be ashamed.”

FOOTNOTES: 1 John Newton, “Amazing Grace” (1779).

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.

Our Great High Priest

Every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins … No one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’; as he says also in another place, ‘You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.’ Hebrews 5:1, Hebrews 5:4-6

The concept of priesthood and the sacrificial system is far removed from our contemporary Western world, but understanding it is fundamental to Christian living. The practice of animal sacrifice in Old Testament Israel was not a man-made system created as a futile attempt to reach God and make humans acceptable to Him. Rather, it was meant to help God’s covenant people understand His character, His expectations, and the wonder of His plan of redemption (and it can still help us in this way today). In all of its nuances, God was pointing His people toward the finished and perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who would come both as His people’s Great High Priest and as the one perfect sacrifice offered on their behalf. 

Historically, Israel’s high priest would have come from the line of Aaron, Moses’ brother, and would have been considered “chief among his brothers” (Leviticus 21:10). This individual would have experienced the same societal conditions, pressures, and trials as the men and women he was representing, which would have helped him to be a more compassionate advocate on their behalf. 

Long before the arrival of Jesus, however, the historical pattern of high-priestly appointments had been corrupted by Herod the Great and other rulers, who chose the high priest for themselves. They didn’t understand that the high priest’s role was not an honor to be bestowed by man but ultimately a call from God, as it had been for Aaron. High priests were not to represent the political establishment; they were to represent God’s people to God Himself.

That is one of the factors that makes Jesus the very best high priest: He did not take upon Himself the glory of becoming a high priest; rather, He was appointed by the Father. He acknowledged, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’” (John 8:54). He perfectly endured the same hardships we face. He has gone before Almighty God for our sins even though He was sinless. With a spirit of gentleness, Jesus spurs us toward righteousness. Because He offered the perfect sacrifice—indeed, because He was the perfect sacrifice—you and I can enjoy God’s presence both now and forevermore. No sin or suffering, no disappointment or despair, makes this glorious reality any less true: that you have a priest, forever, and therefore you have a place with Him, forever.

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.