“that in nothing I shall be ashamed”
Paul was never ashamed of the Gospel. He preached in the worst of conditions to the toughest of crowds and never backed down from anyone, even Peter. He knew the message God had given him to deliver, and he knew it had to get done. So nothing was going to stand in his way. He travelled all over the area we now know as Turkey and Greece delivering the powerful message of Jesus resurrection, and the atoning sacrifice of the cross. It was a story that was very hard for anyone to believe. And he usually went to the Jews in those villages first, hoping to show them through the prophecies about Christ how Jesus had fulfilled every one of them. The Jews were his toughest crowd!
In Antioch, they first accepted Paul and Barnabas, but when the whole village showed up to hear the preaching the next day, including the Gentiles, the Jews turned against them (Acts 13). In Iconium, many believed f both Jews and Gentiles, but the unbelieving Jews raised a stir against Paul (Acts 14). The Jews from Antioch came over, and together with the Iconium unbelieving Jews, they stoned Paul (Acts 14:19-20). In Thyatira, Paul and Barnabas were thrown in prison (Acts 16), in Thessalonica they were run out of own by night (Acts 17), and then Paul was sent out of Berea on a boat. Everywhere he went, he faced opposition. But he was never ashamed.
Now, I am not so bold. I wish I was, believe me. And I need to be! I tend to stop witnessing once someone brings up a reasonable objection and I am not prepared enough to respond. The problem often is that people get me off message. I want to chare the atoning power of the blood, and they want to talk about some obscure bible passage about the last days, or they want to discuss the social issues of today and their context in scripture. They want to get off the subject of their sin, and turn it to my lack of compassion for the sinners. It’s not about that.
It’s about delivering the gospel message. Not a social doctrine, not end times revelation, not bible history, not old testament vs. new testament, but Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen again. It’s about the need everyone has to be saved from the sin that’s born into them through the seed of Adam. It will never go away except by the grace of God. If I could just learn to make the simple gospel message the one that I share, I might have more boldness too, and not be ashamed. Now, believe me, I am not ashamed of Christ! But I am ashamed that I do not do a better job of sharing His message with all those I have the opportunity to witness to. I must do better!
Lord, help me keep the main thing the main thing. When I have an opportunity to speak to someone about where they stand with Christ, help me to deliver the simple message, and not make it about anything but His atoning sacrifice. Help me to keep it simple and to the point, and not be distracted by questions that might take me off topic. I desire to be a more effective witness for you, and see souls saved into your kingdom.