Paul’s Expectation and Hope
Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians while he was in prison awaiting trial before the Roman emperor. He suffered greatly for the cause of the gospel yet he was not demoralised.
The apostle revealed his earnest expectation and hope. “…that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death (Php 1:20).”
In whatever circumstance he might find himself in, Paul was determined that his primary concern was not his welfare but the glory of His Lord, Jesus Christ. He was determined that he would do nothing that would cause him to be ashamed before Christ.
The heavy trials and sufferings he was going through, the threat of impending death hanging thickly over his head—Paul had decided that all these would not break his faith.
Whether we are aware of it consciously, we sometimes worry about the cost of obedience. Will it cost me a career opportunity? Will it cost me a relationship that means so much to me? Will it hurt the feelings of my loved ones? Will I lose face?
Regard for Men’s Opinions
We read in the book of John of certain believers in Jesus who were worried about what their belief would cost them.
“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42-43).”
Many leaders of the Jewish people heard the words of Jesus, saw the signs He performed and believed. While they were intellectually honest, they were nonetheless morally dishonest.
They were fearful of what open acknowledgement of Jesus as the Messiah would cost them. They could lose their social and religious status as leaders and members of the Sanhedrin and be driven out of the synagogue. This would mean great shame.
They feared losing the esteem of the people as a result of being put to public shame. “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
We will be very much ashamed indeed if we are more concerned about the opinions of men than obedience to Christ.
The Lord Jesus was not ashamed to call us His brethren. “…he is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb 2:11).” Can there be any reason at all that we can be ashamed of Him?
Fear of Suffering for Christ’s Sake
The apostles suffered for the cause of Christ. They were arrested and beaten for preaching Christ but they rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name (Acts 5:50-41).”
The early church suffered for the cause of Christ. Saul was throwing them into prison but “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:3-4).”
No one enjoys suffering. Suffering is widely perceived to be a shameful thing. People suffering in poverty are sometimes despised for no other reason than that they are poor. Others convicted of crimes and serving prison sentences are regarded as shameful; many of these convicts and ex-convicts carry with them a heavy sense of shame.
But it is not so for the saints suffering for the cause of Christ. The inspired apostles—men who suffered greatly for the Lord—assure us that there is no shame in suffering for Christ.
“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified…Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf (1Pe 4:14, 16).”
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2Ti 1:12).”
What a glorious statement! “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
The Lord has blessed us with a new year to serve Him. As we launch forth into 2018, may we resolve as the apostle Paul did, “…that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Php 1:20-21).”