[J]oin with me in suffering for the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:8
Suffering for the Gospel
Tour guides in Rome will describe what the Apostle Paul’s dungeon was like—the dungeon he lived in as he awaited execution. Many think that it was like an empty cistern in the ground, with only a hole in the top for light.
So picture Paul at the bottom of that dungeon. He’s alone. He’s cold. He knows he is going to die. Then the Holy Spirit moves him to write one final letter, a letter to his friend Timothy. From the darkness of that pit, the living and enduring Word of God comes to Timothy. And across the miles and centuries, that same Word comes to you and me.
Among the many extraordinary things that Paul includes in his last letter is this: “Join me in suffering for the gospel.” As Paul considered all that the Lord Jesus had done for him, he was gladly willing to suffer for the sake of standing up for the Good News of Christ.
You and I live in a society that, to a great degree, has gotten used to avoiding pain and inconvenience at all costs. For this reason, it’s easy for us to go on automatic pilot and avoid standing up for the gospel if doing so involves any discomfort or trouble. Such abandonment of our Lord is wrong. It’s sin. And deep down we know it.
So look to Jesus again. Come to him in repentance. Be washed clean in his blood. Then, as a forgiven child of God, recognize the opportunities you have every day to join with the Apostle Paul. Perhaps it is remaining faithful and Christlike during a difficult stretch in your marriage. Perhaps it is refusing to fill your conversation with complaints about your physical aches and pains. Or perhaps it is accepting ridicule because you are open about your Christian faith.
Just remember. In light of what Jesus has done for you, suffering for the gospel is not a burden. It is a sweet privilege.
Lord Jesus, in you I am forgiven. In you I have life. Empower me to endure any trouble for the sake of serving as a witness for you. Amen.