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August 19

2 Timothy 1:8-12

8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.  9 He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. 10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, 12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. — 2 Timothy 1:8-12

The Calling of God Cannot Be Manufactured

by Johnny L. Mathis

Are you afraid or ashamed to speak to others about what Christ has done for you? In the first century church, there were many reasons to be fearful of testifying to others about Jesus Christ. Anyone who spoke about what God had done for them through the Savior endured certain persecution and often execution. Timothy faced this reality. So in his last epistle before his execution in Rome, Paul encouraged his disciple. In so doing, he encourages us as well, because we also can be gripped with a fear that keeps us from sharing the “Good News” that has been entrusted to us.

Many times we forget our identity in Christ, as well as our calling that flows out of that identity. We often fail to realize that we cannot manufacture our own identity and calling, let alone our very salvation. These are given to us by God. There is no picking and choosing, even though all too often we want it that way. Our salvation is a holy decision by God to redeem us as a total work of grace and not by our own efforts. Your salvation, as Timothy’s, was planned before time began. That boggles your mind, doesn’t it? Just let that sink in for a moment. You really are important after all. You are loved. You don’t have to manufacture it. It is given to you as a gift from God our Father through the sacrifice of Christ the Son.

Through Christ, God did away with death (separation from Himself) for you and made you eternally alive. Paul offers himself as the perfect example for Timothy and for us. He suffers persecution, but he is not ashamed—nor is he afraid. Why? Paul knows Christ, believes in Him, and concludes that Jesus will guard what has been given to Him until He returns.

For us this provides much needed clarity and assurance. Understanding who we are in Christ frees us to fully accept His calling on our lives, which includes speaking about Him to others. Knowing that we didn’t manufacture it means it will hold up and not fail.

Understand that you are to be used by God as a “change agent” in a world that is in rebellion against Him. Because of that, you will most surely face some type of suffering and trouble due to your testimony about Jesus. Don’t be afraid, for Christ said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b). Because of Him, and in Him, you are also an overcomer. It is part of His grace gift to you. Will you embrace it, or will you ignore it? 

Praxis

  1. Meditate on 2 Timothy 1:7. What has God actually given you that allows you to both know who you are and follow your calling?
  2. Make a list of reasons why you do not speak to others about what Christ has done for you. The most obvious one is fear.
  3. What other reasons hold you back? After doing that, pray and seek answers to help you overcome them. It is always good to see what scripture says about them, so look for scriptures that deal with those issues. 

Johnny L. Mathis

While attending the University of Memphis, Johnny became a Christian at the Baptist Student Union. He also became involved in The Navigators, a discipleship ministry, which helped him develop a solid foundation and grow in his faith. Later, God led him to his wife, Stephanie. They have two daughters.   

Johnny's desire is to help others grow to maturity in their faith. Through developing, writing, and leading seminars, Bible studies, and discipleship activities with individuals and groups, his focus has and always will be to enable others to feed themselves through the Word, grow in Christ-like character, and help others do the same.    

He enjoys reading and studying God's Word immensely because he knows it has changed his life and can change others as well. Other hobbies and interests include writing, reading, canoeing, swimming, movies, and anything that involves family and friends. 

God’s Word changes lives. Three verses of Scripture that have impacted Johnny's life greatly are John 10:28-29, 2 Timothy 2:15, and Matthew 28:19-20. Why these three? They tell him he is eternally secure in Christ, that he is called as a believer/worker to study and handle the Word of truth correctly, and that he is called to make disciples.