The other day we began to study Paul encouraging Timothy to be courageous in his faith. His first direction was to tell Timothy to rekindle or “stir up” Timothy’s gift: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Tim 1:6) Next Paul encouraged Timothy with a list of God-given resources instead of fear: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).
So with our God-given spiritual gifts stoked from embers to a flame, and prepared to dismiss fear with our God-given resources of His dynamic power, His perfect love that casts out all fear, and a sound mind, which is under the control of God’s Holy Spirit, we are prepared for Paul’s next encouragement. “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 Tim 1:8).
We are called to live by faith, not sight, and to rest on the God-given gifts and His weapons to fight spiritual warfare. Paul brings this up again and again in his letters: “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.” (Rom 1:16) Rather than being “ashamed,” Timothy was to welcome the opportunity to stand with persecuted brothers and Christ. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Tim 3:12)
Jesus Himself promised that all who follow Him will be persecuted for His namesake. But He also promised, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev 2:10) So how do we make it through those promised trying times? By depending upon His strength and His faithfulness: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) It is in His strength that our weaknesses are perfected: “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor 12:9)