“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (II Timothy 1:8).
This exhortation of Paul follows immediately upon his assertion that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear” (II Timothy 1:7). Thus, any Christian who is afraid to give a clear testimony for the Lord, or who is unwilling to support those who may be suffering because of their testimony (Paul was in a Roman dungeon when he wrote these words), did not receive such a spirit of fear from God.
A courageous, uncompromising stand for the truth, even in the face of ridicule and persecution, characterized the early Christians who rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).
On the other hand, pride is such a besetting sin of human nature, and peer pressure so intimidating, that most Christians today—whether Christian intellectuals on the campus being pressured to compromise with evolution, or Christian laborers confronted with dishonesty and vile language on the job, or Christian teen-agers being urged to partake of drugs and sex—either yield to the pressure or retreat in silence.
We need to remember the words of Christ: “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
The apostle Paul, suffering in prison and soon to be executed, still could say: “Nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed” (II Timothy 1:12). God gives us “power and love and a sound mind”—not the spirit of fear! Therefore, we can well afford to be partakers of the gospel’s afflictions by the power of God. HMM