I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:14-17).
There are times when standing up for the truth is neither easy nor popular; just ask Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah! Most know them better by their slave names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 1:7). These young men-along with Daniel (Belteshazzar)-were among the first captives taken to Babylon in 606 BC (vss. 1-6). These men refused to defile themselves with the king's unclean meat and wine, risking their lives for their faith (vs. 8). As a result, God blessed them with health, wisdom, and understanding that exceeded that of all of their companions who had given in (vss. 9-21). The three would be cast into a furnace of fire for refusing to worship the king's image (Daniel 3). Daniel faced the den of lions for praying to God instead of Darius (Daniel 6). Through all of their trials, God brought them safely, and God's name was exalted as a result (3:29-30; 6:25-28). While the blessings of standing for the right are not worthy of comparison to the suffering we may have to endure (Romans 8:18), it is often easy to lose sight of the reward while we are in the heat of the battle.
The apostles showed that they were not ashamed of the Gospel.
When Paul wrote that he was “not ashamed of the gospel” (Romans 1:16), it was not because he had never suffered for preaching it. By the time he penned these words, he had been stoned, beaten, imprisoned, and chased out of a number of places by Jews and Gentiles alike who wanted him dead. When awaiting execution in Rome, he wrote to Timothy and acknowledged that his suffering had all been on account of the Gospel. Nevertheless, he concluded, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
There is no cause for shame in the Gospel.
Unlike the religions surrounding it in the world, Christianity was not born out of “cunningly devised fables” (2 Peter 1:16); the Gospel is true! Furthermore, it is the only thing that has the power to save those who are lost (Romans 1:16). And when all of the literary works perish in the flames on the last day, God’s Word is all that will stand (John 12:48).
If we stand for the right, we will never be ashamed.
Peter wrote that those who revile us are the ones who will end up being ashamed: “when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Peter 3:16; cf. Titus 2:6-8). We certainly should not be ashamed of our God if He has said that He is not ashamed of us (Hebrews 2:11; 11:16), but if we are ashamed of Him in this world, He will be ashamed of us in the end (Mark 8:38).
Jesus endured the shame of the cross (Hebrews 12:2) so that we will not be ashamed. The world may try to shame us for choosing to follow Jesus, but they can only succeed if we let them.
Copyright © 2018. Originally published in The Elizabethton Edifier, August 28, 2016; copyright © by Roby Ellis.