“So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.” – 1 Timothy 1:8-10
Timothy was ministering in Ephesus when he received this letter from the Apostle Paul. Paul was imprisoned in Rome for preaching the gospel and at this point he knew he was near death. The intentions of this letter was to ask Timothy to visit him in Rome as well as to encourage Timothy to be a faithful minister of the Gospel amidst false teaching and persecution. For Timothy to be ready to suffer with Paul for the Gospel. Paul reminds Timothy that his preparation and actual suffering could not be done in his own strength, but only by God’s power. These verses are also an encouragement to any believer who is struggling with fear, doubt, or going through suffering to know where their strength comes from and keep their eyes on Christ.
We see several main themes in these three verses: God’s Power, Salvation, Calling, God’s Purpose, and God’s Grace. But our focus here is turning our eyes upon Jesus while God gives us the strength to prepare to suffer for the Gospel.
Why did He save us and call us?
We know that it was not because of anything that we have done or deserve, as Paul states, “He did this, not because we deserved it.” As we read and think about how Paul used his words, we start to understand more about our human condition. Romans 3 tells us that no one is good and cannot do anything good. If we are not good and cannot do anything good, then that means that we need help. Romans 3:23 also says, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” which means we cannot save ourselves. He saved us and called us in order to show us His grace through Jesus. It was His plan before the beginning of time, before we even existed, before we could do any works, God planned to show us His grace through Jesus.
How did He do this?
He sent His Son, Jesus, to be our Savior. Christ broke the power of death by dying on the cross at Calvary for our sins and raising from the grave on the third day. Our Savior lives! Death is defeated!
Why did the Apostle Paul share the Gospel in this letter to Timothy?
Because every believer needs to be reminded of the amazing grace of God through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross to pay for our sins. All of these things such as strength in the midst of suffering, salvation, and calling are only made possible by grace through Jesus Christ. It is the work of God and not man! Paul is reminding Timothy not to forget the promises of God, the grace of God, and what Christ has done despite our sinful nature. This is the motivation that Timothy needed in order to stand firm in sharing the Gospel while in the midst of persecution. To remember that his salvation and perseverance only is made possible by the power of God.
Paul’s words to Timothy about preparing for suffering also apply to us today. This is something that we cannot do in our own strength and Paul tells us where this help comes from in verse 8. He says, “with the strength that God gives you.” It is very important to note that Paul does not say prepare for suffering in your own strength, but he says with the strength that comes from the Lord. When we only rely on our own strength, our sinful tendencies are to sink into the fear of rejection and persecution. By the strength that God gives us, we must prepare to suffer. Not suffer alone. Paul says suffer with me. We also have the privilege to partner with Christ in His suffering.
“But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!” Read 1 Peter 4:12-16.
The true believer is willing to suffer for the gospel, because he knows Christ is sufficient. For Paul there was no greater privilege than to suffer for the gospel.
- Can you say that for your life that there is nothing better than to suffer for the gospel?
- Are you preparing to suffer for the gospel with the strength that comes from the Lord or are you living by your own strength?