2 Tim 1:8, “So do not be ashamed (aorist passive subjunctive, “you should not be…”) of the testimony about our Lord or of me, a prisoner for his sake, but by God’s power accept your share of suffering*~ for the gospel.”
How could we ever be ashamed of Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, especially in front of strangers we will never see again? To be caught with gospel tracts in our possession or a Bible in hand would signal to everyone that we are followers of Jesus. Then we must be fanatics! By the way, the word fanatic means being a “fan” of someone. Why should we be ashamed to be fans of Jesus?
In 2 Timothy 1:8, Paul commands Timothy to not be ashamed of being identified with him as a prisoner or with the gospel of Christ. In AD 66, to be identified as a Christian brought persecution, yet Paul commanded Timothy to accept his “share of suffering for the gospel.” We share in the suffering now, then the glory later.
Paul never saw his imprisonment as a bad thing. He only saw it as an opportunity to spread the gospel. Could you have thought of a better way to spread the gospel throughout the Praetorian Guard? Paul considered himself a “prisoner for His sake.”
He wrote to the believers at Philippi, “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole Praetorian Guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Phil 1:12–-14). This made it worthwhile.
The command of the passage is for Timothy to share in Paul’s highest purpose in life: to “know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:10). Thus Paul was bold as he wrote, “Let those also who suffer according to the will of God, entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Pet 1:19).
Any time a sinner is confronted with his sin, he may respond negatively, but this is a risk we have to take. “God’s power” gives us grace to endure anything. However, the grace only flows when needed. We can count on it.
“Lord, my self–protective interests have kept me silent too often, especially when I knew I would be criticized for openly identifying with You. I feel so ashamed. Please give me strength today to point someone to You.”