12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12–13, NKJV).
What are Christians to do when trials come? They will come in various ways, especially when we live godly (James 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:6; 2 Tim. 3:12). Peter teaches Christians how to overcome the distress of trials with the joy of Christ. (1) Do not think your trials are unique to you (1 Pet. 4:12). Trials can be fiery. Your adversary wants to isolate you, but others have faced and overcome trials, and so can you (Heb. 11:36-40). (2) Rejoice to partake of Christ’s sufferings (1 Pet. 4:13-14). Jesus suffered trials, and He comes to the aid of all who put their faith in Him (Heb. 2:18; 4:15-16). Rejoice in Christ and follow His steps (1 Pet. 2:21). (3) Do not be ashamed of being a Christian (1 Pet. 4:15-18). Remain faithful through the difficulties you face for wearing His name (Mark 8:38). Accept suffering for those things that glorify God, and you will be judged faithful for your obedience to Christ. (4) Commit your life to God (1 Pet. 4:19). Deposit your soul for safekeeping to God. Accept the momentary grief trials bring and keep doing good (1 Pet. 2:19-23). Your trial is a moment to purify your faith and look toward your heavenly reward (1 Pet. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 4:6-8). Faith in Christ overcomes this world’s trials (1 Pet. 5:4). Trust that God will not leave you (Heb. 13:5-6). He will right every wrong and reward your faith with eternal life.
4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; (2 Thessalonians 1:4–5, NKJV)
Jesus blesses those persecuted for righteousness’s sake (Matt. 5:10-12). Many early Christians were “made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations” because of their faith (Heb. 10:33). The saints in Thessalonica exemplify steadfast endurance in the face of fierce opposition. Their persecution was not due to God failing or forgetting them. Far from it (1 Thess. 3:12-13). Their faithful fortitude despite suffering for their faith revealed two unbending truths. (1) God will righteously judge those who persecute His people (v. 5). Paul explained, “since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you” (2 Thess. 1:6). God will judge those who bring suffering upon the righteous. The persecutors of Christians “do not know God” and “do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” therefore, they will experience divine vengeance (2 Thess. 1:7-8). (2) Those who suffer as Christians are worthy of the kingdom of God (v. 5). These faithful ones will share in the glory of Christ when He comes (2 Thess. 1:10; Col. 3:4). Like them, may we faithfully endure trials and the promise of eternal life (Heb. 10:36-39). Do not be ashamed of Jesus (Mark 8:38). Glorify God when you suffer for Christ (1 Pet. 4:16). Great is your reward in heaven (Matt. 5:10-12).
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels (Luke 9:23–26, NKJV).
Commitment. Jesus had it and was committed to doing the Father’s will to the point of death (“lifted up” John 8:28-29). Early Christians had it, losing their lives rather than denying the Lord (Acts 7:59-60; 26:10). Christians who faced impending suffering were exhorted by Christ to “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). This directive helps us understand what it means to “deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Even life itself must not be more precious to us than Jesus and doing His will. There is no benefit in gaining the whole world and forfeiting souls. Commitment to Christ eliminates being ashamed of Him and His words. We express faith that overcomes the world by our commitment to Christ (1 John 5:4). Commitment to Christ takes precedence over everyone and everything in the life of a disciple. May it be so with us today and each day that follows.
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, (2 Timothy 1:7–8, NKJV)
Fear and shame are companions. The fear of isolation (from family and friends), the fear of retribution (from influential people), and the fear of rejection (from those we love), and the fear of reprimand are mere samplings of the fears that cause the silence of shame and the retreat of fearing men rather than following the Lord (Matt. 10:28; Jno. 9:22; 12:42-43). Paul called Timothy to the courage provoked by faith. Paul experienced abandonment from brethren due to the gospel and his imprisonment for it (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:10, 16). But, the Lord stood by him, strengthened him, and delivered him from evil for salvation in His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:17-18). We are urged not to be ashamed of the gospel that saves us or those suffering for it (Rom. 1:16). Anchored by faith in His unshakable word, we can resist the temptations of fear and shame with power, love, and soundness of mind. May we boldly face every foe of faith, confident that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37-39).
1 To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. 3 Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. (Psalm 25:1–3, NKJV)
David praised God with his whole being. God, who breathed into man the breath of life, is the one to whom we (like David) now present our entire being, both to praise Him, and to devote ourselves to His purposes. Faith in God compels us to offer our lives to Him. We trust Him with our lives, as we give ourselves to serving His purposes. God assures us that our faith is the victory that overcomes the world and its enemies of righteousness (1 John 5:4). Although life brings trials, they are only temporary. We keep our hope set on the Lord, and wait on His justice (see 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8). The enemies of holiness will be confounded, and reduced to shame, for fighting against God and His people. But, those who live by faith will not be brought to shame, but to eternal glory.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. (1 Corinthians 4:14–16, NKJV)
We ought to be ashamed when we sin against God. Paul did not take shame off the table as an incentive to obey the gospel (see 1 Cor. 6:5 and 15:34: “I say this to your shame”). Here, he was not only shaming them for their pride (that was dividing the church, 1 Cor. 4:71-13), he was also (and especially) warning them as his own children in the faith. They must humble themselves, stop their divisive conduct, and imitate the apostle (cf. 1 Cor. 3:18-21; 4:6). Shame over our sin is a valid reason to repent and change our conduct, when we learn of sin in our lives. Yet, too many who profess to follow Jesus are ashamed of Him and His words. Jesus warned against making this sinful decision: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38). If you are ashamed of your sin, then act upon that shame. Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins, or as a Christian, repent and pray to be forgiven (Acts 2:37-38; 8:22-24).
19 And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (John 9:19–23, NKJV)
Jesus had healed a man who was blind from birth. His parents knew who healed him, but fear kept them from confessing Jesus to the Jewish leaders. This is a clear example of what Jesus taught about being ashamed of Him: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38). Being silenced by intimidation is the cowardice that results in the second death (Rev. 21:8). Never be ashamed of Jesus and His words, regardless of what other threaten to do to you. This is the teaching of Jesus.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, they shall be cast down,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 6:15, NKJV)
Shame over one’s sin ought to motive repentance and a return to the Lord. But, the people of Judah had so entrenched themselves in sin that they were not at all ashamed. They had lost their ability to blush over things that are disgraceful and repugnant to God. Not unlike many in our time, they abandoned following the truth of God and reveled in their sins of idolatry and immorality. God assured them their sin brought them under His punishment. Does the sight of sin cause you to blush? Or, have you adapted to its presence, even starting to participate in sin without embarrassment? Christians must have such an aversion to sin that we turn away from its shame. The shame and guilt associated with sin should deter us from becoming comfortable with it.
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. (Romans 1:16, NKJV)
Christians may be ashamed of the gospel for any number of reasons; none of which are valid before the Almighty. For some, the gospel is too “simple”. They are ashamed of its lowliness; they desire to be significant in the eyes of the world. For others, the gospel is too plain. These are impressed by pomp and ceremony, ritual and rites, and its simple plan of salvation (believe, confess faith, repent and be baptized) is not flashy enough for them. For these, worship must be an extravaganza exciting the senses, an amazing “experience” of sound, lights, action. It seems that worship “in spirit and in truth” is too dull for them (Jno. 4:23-24). Others are ashamed of the gospel’s demands. They want to continue living selfishly in sin rather than standing up for Jesus and being different from the world. These prefer to blend in with their surroundings. The gospel calls upon us to stand up and stand out, without shame, because Christ Jesus died for us and we now live for Him. Glory in the cross; never be ashamed of the gospel (Gal. 6:14). It alone is God’s power to save you.